On Friday it was confirmed by Apple’s camera hardware supplier, Sony, that the Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer plans to acquire rival Toshiba’s imaging sensor business for a cool 19 billion yen ($155 million) — a move that could, theoretically speaking, bolster Sony’s position to be Apple’s camera supplier for years to come.
According to the terms of the transaction as outlined in Sony’s official press release, the company will usurp assets from Toshiba including its 300-millimeter wafer production line based in Oita City, Japan. Additionally, as part of the transfer of physical assets, which will be used to produce Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensors, approximately 1,100 Toshiba employees will join Sony to keep the operation running smoothly.
Sony Semiconductor — the company’s camera hardware manufacturing division — produces high-quality hardware for a number of world renowned digital and DSLR camera companies, including its own units and Nikon. Apple, in recent years, has called upon Sony to manufacture sensors that are built into the company’s iPhone line.
The acquisition of Toshiba’s image sensor business could ultimately catapult Sony’s position in the CMOS sensor market, thus bolstering its position to meet demand and further support an increasing number of orders from Apple (and others, potentially) in the future.
For Toshiba, the transaction helps to alleviate the stresses that have accompanied the company’s recent marketing scandal, in which profits were being severely overstated. Reports also indicate that Toshiba is currently mulling the abandonment or merger of several of its businesses — including the company’s memory division — in an effort to shore up finances.
For users of Apple’s future iPhone models, on the other hand, Sony’s acquisition could one day lead to the production of more advanced CMOS sensors that incorporate newer technologies, and thus, enhance the already stellar performance of the iPhone’s camera hardware performance.
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