Nikkei: Samsung Challenges Sony

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Nikkei Asian Review talks about Samsung and Sony fight for the leadership on the image sensor market:

"Sony, which commands more than half of the market, has prioritized the supply of image sensors to Huawei and other leading smartphone manufacturers. But the strategy has backfired.

"Sony maintains a cautious stance, while Samsung is going on an investment offensive as if now is their chance," said an official with a supplier of equipment used in the production process of image sensors. "The two companies are demonstrating totally different moves."

The comment followed several large orders the supplier won in August and September, all of which were from South Korea's Samsung.

As a late comer to the image sensor market, Samsung has been doing business with Apple and Huawei on a limited scale while attracting smaller customers such as China's Xiaomi and Vivo, which are boosting smartphone production in expectation of demand for alternatives to Huawei versions.

Samsung, therefore, is highly likely to benefit from the rise of smaller Chinese smartphone makers.

Sony, for its part, has a strategy for meeting Samsung's challenge. "We will strive to expand and diversify our customer base looking ahead to fiscal 2021, " Hiroki Totoki, the company's executive deputy president, said at a press conference in October. "Recovery of profitability is expected in earnest in fiscal 2022.", he added.

But one analyst familiar with the matter said it will be difficult for Sony to "fully make up for a drop in supplies to Huawei with an increase in sales to other companies this business year."

"Sony's sensor may not answer the demand needs of (smartphone) makers pursing a high number of pixels," said Tetsuo Omori, senior analyst at Japanese research company Techno Systems Research."

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