Shaping the compact camera module industry

10th November 2017
Posted By : Lanna Cooper
Shaping the compact camera module industry

According to Yole Développement (Yole), the CCM industry is moving slowly towards the consolidation phase with significant technology changes and supply chain evolution. In 2016, this ecosystem showed ten companies beyond $1bn in revenue. Within the CIS market segment for CCM applications, the three main players are sharing 75% of the total market. The CCM industry revenue was $23.4bn in 2016 and is expecting to reach $46.8bn in 2022.

Nevertheless the CCM supply chain still appears as a complex industry: Yole’ analysts identified some overlaps between the activities of CCM sub components companies. As an example, lens manufacturing and module assembly remains the last overlapping market segments. By the way, mastering the full CCM technology set has become almost impossible. Adding to the complexity of the ecosystem and due to the evolution of these technologies, illumination parts will enter in the ecosystem.

Yole Group of Companies releases its CCM analyses this month: both partners, Yole and System Plus Consulting pursue their collaboration to investigate the imaging industry, dive deep inside the technology innovations and understand the market drivers and issues. Two reports are now available: Camera Module Industry Market and Technology Trends and Camera Module Physical Analyses Overview. 

“CCM industry will continue to be driven by technology”, asserted Pierre Cambou, Activity Leader at Yole. “New technologies are serving demanding applications, in a market hungry for technology performance.” 

Smartphone manufacturers and car makers are integrating more and more functionalities. Rear facing and front facing, CIS, OIS and lens. All are art of the Yole Group of companies analyses.

“At 12.2% CAGR for the next five years, the CMM industry is a growth powerhouse with numerous large companies thriving in a dynamic market”, commented Pierre Cambou from Yole. Today giant camera module players have emerged such as LG Innotek, Semco, Foxconn Sharp, O-Film and Sunny Optical.

Historically one could differentiate the faith of camera module market from the sub parts such as the image sensor, the lens and the autofocus or optical image stabilisation system (VCM ).

It seems that differentiated growth has now ended and every sub segment is enjoying almost equal benefit from the rising market tide. This convergence is in part due to the end of quasi-monopoly from Sony in the image sensor sub-segment now joined by Samsung and Omnivision. The story is very similar for Largan Precision in the lens set sub-segment which is now facing renewed competition from Sunny Optical, Kantatsu and Genious Optical.

The last sub-domain detailed by Yole’s analysts in the CCM report is VCMs. The growth of VCM companies has been undercut by dire structuration efforts. Yole had mentioned the inability of the VCM to serve the demand in the mobile market. Price pressures have changed the face of competition with competitors such as Mitsumi and Shicoh which were forced out and new players such as New Shicoh and Jawha to take centre stage.

New technologies are serving demanding applications in a market hungry for technology performance. Therefore, mobile rear photography camera is still the main driver of the camera module industry. In 2015 OIS was the VCM technology differentiator introduced by Apple.

While competition and the whole ecosystem was struggling to incorporate this innovation, the dual camera approach has been an elegant solution from LG and Huawei to recycle old module designs into systems. Those two innovations have collided and resulted into the impetus to provide dual rear cameras with dual OIS which is only happening end of 2017.

On the mobile front camera side, the impact of selfies has been increasing the performance and cost of camera devices. Now Apple and Samsung are coming out with dual front camera setup incorporating biometric capability and also adding a 3D sensing user interface for Apple. Those innovations are game changing as they explain the enormous increase in camera module content per smartphone.

While two cameras were needed few years ago, now the new normal in the high end of mobile is to have three to four cameras, having two cameras on one or both sides. With a gross average cost of $6 per camera it is quite easy to understand we left a world of $12 per smartphone in 2015 and have entered a world in the range of $24 worth of camera module per smartphone in 2017.

This vision is currently being implemented by most OEMs and while the smartphone industry is entering into a more modest growth pattern due to maturity, the camera module industry is not slowing down its pace thanks to volume demand, sustained prices and a technology driven environment.

Since the last reports performed by System Plus Consulting and Yole, the CCM industry has completely changed: more and more innovative functionalities have been integrated in smartphones and the growing automotive market segment is also looking for new approaches.

In 2017 the CCM reports are providing renewed analysis and a track of the specification metrics. They are offering valuable insights about the market evolution and the technology choices made by the main players.

Under this context, CCM companies have updated their design. 

“In the automotive sector for example, manufacturers have rationalised their components in terms of size and number of boards and connectors”, asserted Audrey Lahrach, in charge of costing analyses at System Plus Consulting. “Their newer designs clearly express their ability to get closer to the mobile camera module’s structure in order to reduce manufacturing cost.”

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