Sony Corp (NYSE: SNE) reported their highest ever profit this year on strong sales of image sensors after many years of losing ground in the consumer electronics market. The company is looking to develop robotics and self driving cars technology as competition in that sector increases. Sony predicts that their operating profit in the coming year through March will double to more than $5.6 billion compared to the year earlier. Their chips division makes up the image sensors business and expects it to continue being their biggest growth driver. These sensors captures more light to produce sharper images that will be in line with consumer demand for better smartphone cameras for sharing photos on social media. Known as “backside illumination”, these sensor layout has been reconfigured which allows Sony to grab about half of the market for image sensors.
Already, other companies such as Samsung and OmniVision Technologies have been stepping up their game in the sensor business. Sony is now developing new sensor technologies for use in robotics and self-driving vehicles. The technologies will be able to quickly measure distances or detect invisible light that is to be used in autonomous driving, robotics, and factory automation.
Atsushi Osanai, professor at Waseda University’s business school, explained, “Sony used to be obsessed with the idea that its technologies should be kept within the group for use only in its own products… Selling components outside the firm was out of line with Sony’s traditional business model.”