Many different applications are driving the integration of CMOS image sensors. If mobile handsets accounted for about 65% of total shipments in 2011, many new applications are poised to drive the future growth of this industry. Three fast emerging applications of significant size should drive the growth of the market to an expected CAGR over 30%: Tablets, Automotive, and Smart TV.
Tablets are poised to boost CIS sales in the consumer market because a majority of tablets now feature one or two cameras, similarly to mobile phones.
“We expect CIS sales to generate nearly $1.5B in 2017!”, forecasts Paul Danini, Technology & Market Analyst, Imaging Technologies & MEMS Devices at Yole Développement. From another standpoint, car manufacturers have begun equipping cars with multiple cameras, pushed by upcoming regulations promoting greater safety
and driver assistance. The automotive market is expected to reach $400M in 2017, and will drive the need for high-performance sensors with special features, e.g. global shutter, very high dynamic range, and low-light sensitivity. This is completely different from the phone market which is still in the race for higher resolution.
As volumes increase, a clear duality appears between companies that have adopted a growth strategy by focusing on low-end markets and those opting for a specialization in high-end and higher margin markets to maintain profitability such as STMicroeletronics and Aptina.
Back in 2009, Omnivison was the only major fabless image sensor manufacturer, but that situation is set to change: the fablight/foundry business models will be more and more successful in the future, fueled by the new business model adopted by players that are not completely integrated up to the system level.
STMicroelectronics is about to outsource its backside illumination image sensor production to United Microelectronics Corp. (Taiwan), and Aptina Imaging already outsources its 12-inch production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The only companies that are financially sustainable with an IDM model are vertically integrated from leading-edge 300mm CIS