If you have paid any attention at all to the camera industry, or by extension the sensor industry, over the last couple of years you would know that Sony has been on a bit of a tear. So much so that last year Sony split its sensor business off into its own company. It seemed as if Sony’s sensor business was a cash cow that would not be slowing down for a while, but it seems that was all an illusion.
In their annual earnings report, it was revealed that Sony’s sensor business suffered an overall annual loss for 2015. This has many speculating that Sony’s momentum, which has been borderline unstoppable, may be waning. This, combined with the recent earthquake in Japan that caused a halt at Sony’s sensor fab, has led to a very dim outlook for the 2016 fiscal year.
This slowdown in Sony’s sensor momentum and the shutdown of their sensor fab won’t have isolated consequences. Both Canon and Nikon have already stated that the shutdown at Sony’s sensor fab will affect their camera manufacturing, and it’s likely that this ripple will head into the smartphone markets as well (though that is down big this year already, partly why Sony’s sensor business lost money).
2016 had a lot of potential and still does, thanks to it being a Photokina year. But given the factory shutdown at Sony, and at other imaging companies (Fuji), combined with Sony’s sensor downturn. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see things look much dimmer at the end of the year that we initially thought they would be.
Sony’s imaging success has put them in a good place, but it has also resulted in much of the rest of the imaging industry relying on them for sensors critical to camera production. Let’s hope Sony can turn it around, or we could see effects of this that reach far beyond Sony and their A & E mount systems.