The CMOS image sensors industry is about to change, with major investment in manufacturing & design

Driven by mobile and automotive applications, the CIS industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.6 percent from 2014 – 2020. Yole Développement (Yole) announced a US$16.2B market by 2020 (in value).

“Smartphone applications still take the lion’s share of the CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) market”, announces Yole, the “More Than Moore” market research, technology and strategy consulting company, in its new report Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry, 2015 Edition, released this week. “Many different applications are part of CIS’ growth story,” details Yole in its technology & market analysis. It includes automotive, medical, and surveillance are areas where great opportunities have surfaced and are driving the market and technology efforts of existing and new players.

Pierre Cambou, Activity Leader, Imaging & Sensors at Yole Développement and Jean-Luc Jaffard, formerly at STMicroelectronics and part of Red Belt Conseil both pursue their investigation and highlight in this new study the CIS market issues.

Under the report Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry, Yole’s team provides key technical insight and analysis about future technology trends and challenges including manufacturing & devices technologies and a technology focus on game-changing areas such as BSI and 3D stacked BSI. This analysis also presents CIS revenue forecast, volume shipments and wafer production by application, market shares and application focus on key CIS growth areas: mobile, DSLR, automotive, medical, security, machine vision.

Exciting new emerging market trends are relevant to the CIS industry. In mobile, the addition of the secondary front-facing camera is already old news, as all high-end handsets and smartphones now have two cameras. In fact, Chinese manufacturers are actually pushing for higher resolution secondary cameras.

”This significantly impacts the average selling price (ASP) of micro camera modules, and is causing low-end players to abandon their focus on submega pixel production and move toward 5Mp+ territories,” explained Pierre Cambou.

Naturally, this has had a major impact on the capital expenditures and technology portfolio roadmaps of these CIS mobile players. This trend is even more crucial for main rear cameras, where compactness and performance are pushed to the extreme. Mobile has become a high-performance/high-volume domain in which one player has excelled so far: Sony Corp (Latest announcement in Nov. 2014)

Automotive is the big story this year, as car manufacturers like Tesla, Nissan and Ford are showing off their first camera-enabled features. Market traction is particularly impressive, with most CIS players enjoying growth rates of 30% – 50%. But this is only the beginning, with most CIS players looking at this market, total revenue should reach US$800M in 2020 – for CIS sensors only.

Automotive’s emerging importance promises profound implications for the CIS ecosystem. As CIS moves from a “for display” application towards a “for sensing” application, new players such as processor and software providers will become key partners for sensor design and marketing.

On the other hand, some CIS segments have suffered sharp decline. With feature phone cameras and digital still-cameras being replaced by more widely-used smartphone cameras, players in these applications are suffering, which is leading to industry consolidation. Yole’s analysts have seen a high level of M&A activity in 2014, which should continue in 2015.


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