Mobile Technologies Index - article 6

Image sensor: Steady growth for new capabilities

PwC forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 percent for image sensors as measured in megapixels per dollar (MP/$) through 2015, compared to 37 percent in 2007-2011.

Since 2007, image sensors have followed Moore’s Law, doubling megapixel density per dollar every two years for a CAGR of 37 percent. The MP/$ will continue to grow, but at a slower rate. This, however, will not reduce or depreciate the image sensor’s importance to mobile innovation. To understand the future of image capture, it is useful to review the evolution of imaging in smartphones.

Consumers now expect to capture higher quality photos and to more easily share them in email, on social networks and as prints. They can look forward to the quality of images and video to continue to improve year after year. By 2015, high end smartphones, which already have 8MP image sensors, will enter the 14MP to 20MP range.

Due to these continuing improvements in mobile device imaging - still and video - the market for point-and-shoot digital cameras is likely to contract. In 2011, the average handset had 30 percent of the MP count of the average digital still camera. By 2015, handsets will have 60 percent of the MPs in digital still cameras on average, with some having more than 80 percent.

Because the camera modules will move from commodity parts with limited functionality to multi-purpose modules capable of wide ranging uses, the modules will require deeper integration with the operating system. PwC anticipates consolidation in the vendor space within our forecast period as fewer suppliers will be likely to meet the higher threshold for functionality and OEMs will look to establish long-term relationships with individual suppliers. In 2012, the supply base included 40 image sensor suppliers and 40 camera module suppliers.

To learn more about the growth for new capabilities of the image sensor download the full article.

All articles in the 'Mobile innovations forecast' series