Sony are an interesting manufacturer in the Android sphere. Their mobile division has pushed out between four to six flagship models a year since 2013 thanks to a six month product refresh and the company splitting its flagship line into the full size model and the “Compact” variant, which has a very similar specification apart from a smaller, lower resolution display, slightly less RAM and a correspondingly smaller battery. Sony’s Xperia Z line was originally designed to represent the best technologies into a smartphone and their recently announced Xperia Z5 now includes a third model, the Z5 Premium, which includes a 4K resolution display panel complete. However, despite (or perhaps because of) the plethora of new models every few months, Sony has not performed especially strongly in the Android market. However, there is one area where Sony is performing well and that’s in the camera arena. Specifically, in providing high quality or industry-leading quality camera sensor and lens arrangements. Many manufacturers use a Sony camera assembly. Today’s story concerns a development between Sony and Toshiba.
The story follows rumors within the industry that Toshiba were preparing to sell on some of their digital camera assets to Sony. This now appears to be taking shape as Sony have announced that they have entered a “non-binding memorandum of understanding” detailing their intent to transfer certain Toshiba manufacturing facilities, equipment, assets and employees to Sony. The facilities covered by the paperwork are in the city of Oita, in Southern Japan. We’ve not seen details of the financial terms that the two businesses have agreed but we understand that Toshiba and Sony are negotiating for Toshiba to outsource CMOS image sensor production to Sony using their former plant. Sony’s press release also explains that they are preparing to offer Toshiba and affiliate employees the option to transfer to Sony. This offer appears to include everybody from manufacturing workers to CMOS sensor designers and could boost Sony’s worker number by 1,100.
For Sony, this acquisition would boost their CMOS image sensor manufacturing capacity, which is set to continue to grow as more and more people rely on digital cameras either directly or indirectly. Sony’s camera reputation remains solid and it is one important way for the business to benefit from other manufacturers’ selling smartphones, including Google and Xiaomi. We’ve already seen how Sony is pushing ahead into the smartphone sensor market and this move will consolidate their position. The companies are seeking to firm up the deal by the end of the year and complete the transfer by the 31 March, 2016.