News Column

Sony stakes ¥35bn on popularity of the selfie

July 24, 2014

The National staff

The selfie has been the hottest trend of the past 12 months, the mainstay of celebrities courting publicity and wannabes wanting instant notoriety.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a selfie word of the year in 2013 is a "photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website".

Love or it hate it, Sony is banking that the selfie is here to stay.

Yesterday it said it would invest 35 billion (Dh1.26bn) to increase production of image sensors for smartphones and tablets as the company courts handset makers to get more orders for front-facing camera sensors.

Sony, which also supplies image sensors for the main camera in Apple's iPhone, said the investment would allow it to raise production by 13 per cent to 68,000 wafers a month by August 2015, a step closer to its midterm goal of 75,000.

The Japanese company said it would increase production of stacked CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensors at two factories on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, while completing work on a factory in northwestern Japan that it bought from Renesas Electronics Corp for a total investment of 35bn.

Imaging sensors are an area of strength for Sony, which leads the market ahead of Omnivision Technologies, whose sensors are mostly used in front-facing smartphone modules, which typically have lower specifications than the main rear camera.

Sony told Reuters in March that it was looking to supply more sensors for front-facing cameras as smartphone makers were looking to improve their quality in response to consumers taking more selfies and making video calls.

Of the total investment, 9bn will be spent this year, which will come out of the company's 65bn capital expenditure budget for semiconductors announced in May. The remaining 26bn will be spent in the first half of the fiscal year starting next March.

This month Sony launched the Xperia C3, dubbing it "the ultimate new smartphone for selfies and social sharing".

Calum MacDougall, the director of Xperia marketing for Sony Mobile Communications, said at the time of the launch that "the rise of selfies shows no signs of abating its usage has increased by 17,000 per cent since 2012".

* with Reuters

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: National, The (United Arab Emirates)

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