Sony is counting on the boom in smartphones and the market's voracious appetite for megapixels—vital to better quality video calls and "selfies"—to sustain the double-digit revenue growth in its image sensor business.
Imaging—both cameras and sensors—is one of three pillars along with Xperia smartphones and PlayStation consoles that the company is leaning on to stop the hemorrhaging at its flagship electronics division. Sony expects its sales of imaging sensor chips to jump 16 percent to 360 billion yen ($3.52 billion) in the year ending this month.
Sony dominates the imaging sensor segment. Its high-end imaging chips are the "film" in the main cameras of both Apple iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy 4, according to a break-down analysis of those products.
Sony has had little business selling lower-quality sensors, which are typically used in front-facing cameras, said Yutaka Okamoto, president of the company's device division.
But now, some smartphone makers are upgrading their front-facing cameras for users who want sharper self-portraits, and that has opened up a whole new market for Sony, Okamoto said.
Several fast-growing Chinese smartphone makers, keen to move upmarket, are also beginning to put in orders for Sony's high-spec chips, he said.