Analyst: Image sensor market to “bounce back” in 2008

Apr. 11, 2008 – Image sensor sales are poised to return to growth in 2008 after a “rare” off year in 2007, rising about 10% to a record ~$7.6B, according to a new report from IC Insights.

CMOS image sensor sales are seen with best growth in this sector, with a projected 19% rise to $4.4B, following a 12% slump in 2007, the report notes. Charge-coupled devices, meanwhile, will drop about 1% this year to $3.2B, vs. flat growth a year ago. Overall optoelectronics (of which image sensors represent about 43% of the market) also will return to growth in 2008 with a ~10% increase to $17.5B, after the sector saw a 2% decline in 2007.

Image sensor rankings show OmniVision regaining the top spot in 2007 with a 32% increase in sales, leapfrogging Micron (-26% image sensor sales). STMicroelectronics dropped from 2nd to 3rd with similarly slumping sales (-29%), the analyst firm notes.

A year ago, combined sales of CMOS image sensors and CCD declined 7% — its first decline since 2001 — primarily due to inventory burnoff in camera phones during 1H07 and weakness in industrial and office end markets (e.g. machine vision and optical scanner systems). CAGR for the sector from 2002-2007 was an eye-popping 35%, driven by camera cell phones (CMOS) and digital still cameras (CCD). IC Insights projects CAGR from 2007-2012 to slow to 14%/year, totaling $13.2B by the end of the period, with growth rates easing as those two market segments become “saturated.”

New and emerging applications will be the key to growth — e.g., embedded cameras in PCs, “hybrid” video/still-picture cameras, automotive safety systems, and applications in medical, toy/video game, and wireless video security markets, all of which will require CMOS technology to integrate pixel cells with image-processing functions in a single chip, while offering lower power consumption vs. CCDs.

IC Insights predicts CMOS image sensors will keep taking marketshare from CCD devices, estimating CMOS will account for 58% of image sensor sales in 2008, vs. 53% in 2007 and 46% in 2004. By 2012, CMOS devices are expected to represent 73% of total image sensor sales and 83% of total imager unit shipments.


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