Techno Systems Research Co Ltd, a Japan-based research firm, published a report on the marketing analysis of the CCD/CMOS area image sensor market in June 2010.

We interviewed Tetsuo Omori, a researcher who conducted the research and wrote the report.

Q: Image sensor makers are expecting that the market for image sensors (except for line types) will considerably grow in 2010.

Omori: The market is doing well. That's for sure. In 2010, the shipping volume will grow 25% to 1,740.6 million units, and the shipment value will increase 22% to US$5,741.9 million on a year-over-year basis. The growth can be explained, for example, by the fact that Nokia Corp now equips more handsets with a camera than before.

The size of the image sensor market (from 2007 to 2010, data courtesy of Techno Systems Research) (Click to enlarge)
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Q: How about the shipment of image sensors for Chinese imitation mobile phones?

Omori: Frankly speaking, it is very difficult to know their current status. But we estimate that the shipping volume will be 274 million units and the shipment value will be US$173.4 million in 2010.

Q: According to your report, the average unit price is as low as 63 cents. Is it because products with a pixel count of 310,000 (VGA) account for most of the shipping volume?

Omori: That's right. In addition, start-up companies that do not have any factory and, thus, have small fixed costs are competing, lowering the average unit price. The market for image sensors for imitation mobile phones is occupied by SETi Co Ltd of Korea (contractor: Dongbu HiTek Co Ltd of Korea), GalaxyCore Inc of China (contractor: SMIC of China) and OmniVision Technologies Inc (contractor: TSMC Ltd of Taiwan).

Q: I heard that, except for the market for imitation mobile phones, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has achieved impressive growth.

Omori: Except for the shipment for imitation mobile phones, Samsung's share in the shipping volume is equivalent to that of OmniVision or even larger. In Japan, Toshiba Corp is hanging on thanks to the demands from Nokia, but Sharp Corp is struggling.

The shipping volume and share of each CMOS sensor manufacturer (data courtesy of Techno Systems Research) (Click to enlarge)
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