CMOS Image Sensors Stay on Stairway to Record Revenues


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Despite an expected slowdown in growth this year and in 2020, the CMOS image sensor market is forecast to continue reaching record-high sales and unit volumes through 2023 with the spread of digital-imaging applications offsetting weakness in the global economy and the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.   CMOS image sensor sales are projected to rise 9% in 2019 to an all-time high of $15.5 billion, followed by a 4% increase in 2020 to $16.1 billion, according to IC Insights’ 2019 O-S-D Report—A Market Analysis and Forecast for Optoelectronics, Sensors/Actuators, and Discretes.

IC Insights is forecasting an 11% rise in CMOS image sensor shipments in 2019 to a record-high 6.1 billion units worldwide, followed by a 9% increase in 2020 to 6.6 billion when the global economy is expected to teeter into recessionary territory, partly because of the tariff-driven trade war between the U.S. and China.  In 2018, CMOS image sensor revenue grew 14% to $14.2 billion after climbing 19% in 2017.  CMOS image sensor sales have hit new-high levels each year since 2011 and the string of consecutive records is expected to continue through 2023, when sales reach $21.5 billion, according to the 350-page O-S-D Report.

Worldwide shipments of CMOS image sensors also have reached eight consecutive years of all-time high levels since 2011 and those annual records are expected to continue to 2023, when the unit volume hits 9.5 billion, based on the O-S-D Report forecast.  China accounted for about 39% of all image sensors purchased in 2018 (not counting units bought by companies in other countries for system production in Chinese assembly plants).  About 19% of image sensors in 2018 were purchased by companies in the Americas (90% of them in the U.S.), according to IC Insights’ report.

Camera cellphones continue to be the largest end-use market for CMOS image sensors, generating 61% of sales and representing 64% of unit shipments in 2018, but other applications will provide greater lift in setting annual market records in the next five years.  The O-S-D Report shows automotive systems being the fastest growing CMOS image sensor application, with dollar sales volume rising by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.7% to $3.2 billion in 2023, or 15% of the market’s total sales that year (versus 6% in 2018).   After that, the highest sales growth rates in the next five years are expected to be: medical/scientific systems (a CAGR of 22.7% to $1.2 billion); security cameras (a CAGR of 19.5% to $2.0 billion); industrial, including robots and the Internet of Things (a CAGR of 16.1% to $1.8 billion); and toys and games, including consumer-class virtual/augmented reality (a CAGR of 15.1% to $172 million).

CMOS image sensor sales for cellphones are forecast to grow by a CAGR of just 2.6% to $9.8 billion in 2023, or about 45% of the market total versus 61% in 2018 ($8.6 billion).  Revenues for CMOS image sensors in PCs and tablets are expected to rise by a CAGR of 5.6% to $990 million in 2023, while sensor sales for stand-alone digital cameras (still-picture photography and video) are projected to grow by a CAGR of only 1.0% to $1.1 billion in the next five years.

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