Sony Plans on Building New Smartphone Image Sensor Plant in Japan
More tech giants are following Apple's example of sourcing components domestically as geopolitical risks mount in the world.
According to Nikkei, Sony is looking to build a new plant for smartphone image sensors in Japan's Kumamoto prefecture and would source chips from the planned fabrication facility operated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) nearby.
The electronics giant expects to break ground on the factory as soon as 2024, with it starting operation in fiscal year 2025 at the earliest. The investment could reportedly cost billions, but by building a plant in Japan, the production of components could be brought closer to home, saving the company from letting outside forces play a factor in its supply lines.
Sony is said to have already mentioned the plan to multiple suppliers and local players. However, it's still carefully considering the timing and scale of the investment due to uncertainties about the global economy.
Meanwhile, the TSMC semiconductor fab in the area is slated to go online in late 2024, producing logic chips, an important component for image sensors. It's this supply that Sony plans to tap into once its new plant kicks off full-scale production in 2025.
Sony's planned image sensor plant won't be its first in Kumamoto prefecture. It has an existing plant that produces sensors for different applications, such as smartphones, vehicles and industrial equipment. As of April this year, the plant is said to have employed about 3,300 employees, one of the highest among Sony's semiconductor plants. Its technological capabilities have also attracted international interest, with it hosting a visit from Apple CEO Tim Cook just this week.
IC Insights, a U.S. analytics company, forecasts the global market for image sensors to grow to $26.9 billion in 2026, which is 30% higher than in 2021. The demand for them is set to grow as more high-end smartphones incorporate larger sensors and in greater numbers, not to mention their volumetric imaging capabilities are needed in autonomous driving and factory automation applications.
Sony is currently the world's largest supplier of CMOS image sensors, having held a 44% global market share by value in 2021. Its rival Samsung, in comparison, only held 18% in that period.
Sony looks to build a new plant for smartphone image sensors in Japan's Kumamoto prefecture, and would source chips from the planned fabrication facility operated by TSMC nearby.
The electronics giant expects to break ground on the factory as soon as 2024, with it starting operation in fiscal year 2025 at the earliest.
It's still carefully considering the timing and scale of the investment due to uncertainties about the global economy.
The move is meant to bring the production of components closer to home as geopolitical risks mount in the world.