Sony splits off image sensor business

Written by Andy Stout

SonyComing to a car near you soon?

A corporate restructure at Sony means that its lucrative and successful image sensor business will now have to stand on its own two feet.

Essentially, Sony is planning to split off all of its separate Devices businesses, which includes the image-sensor focussed Semiconductor group, in a bid to make them more accountable, responsive to market developments and drive growth.

The three main businesses within the segment are semiconductor, battery and storage, and the semiconductor one in particular has been exhibiting particular growth in recent times thanks to the use of its imaging sensors in the smartphone market (Apple in particular) and, of course, DSLRs (Sony, Nikon et al). The new Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation therefore will start operations on April 1st 2016, a date which one hopes has more to do with the start of a new tax year rather than any April Fools pranks.

But restructuring what has at times been an extremely ailing giant has been no joke. To date, Sony has concentrated on splitting off its underperforming divisions, so hiving off something that is profitable represents a significant change in strategy for the company.

What will it mean for the end user? Hopefully faster development cycles at the very least. What will it mean for Sony? It’s not without risk, as the rest of the company’s core businesses, including the underperforming mobile, will now have to bump along without the profit from the image sensor market to shore them up.

According to Reuters, in April Sony announced it would spend 45 billion yen ($374 million) to bolster sensor production capacity this year, over and above an already announced 105 billion yen investment. What’s more: “The company is hoping to expand its sensors into automobile-related products, as vehicles adopt more sensor-enabled safety features,” it adds, which could represent a whole new ballgame for Sony Semiconductor Solutions all together.

Tags: Business

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