Analysis

Camera module industry: proliferation and diversification

10th August 2020
Alex Lynn

“At Yole Développement (Yole), we expect the volume of global camera module shipments to expand from 5.5 billion units in 2019 to 8.9 billion in 2025, at 8.2% CAGR”, said Richard Liu, Technology and Market Analyst, Photonics and Sensing at Yole.

“Mobile multi-cameras started in early stage 2015-2016, moving from single to dual cameras, then maturing to triple in 2018 and 2019. Now they have moved toward quad in 2020. Diverse modules implement diverse levels of zoom or wide-angle capability. This diversity is enriched by sensing camera modules. This is the case for front structured light for 3D facial recognition, the rear ToF for AR applications, and the optical fingerprint module placed under the screen”.

In this dynamic context, Yole and its partner System Plus Consulting have investigated disruptive imaging technologies and related markets in depth.

“Our aim is to point out the latest innovations and to underline the overall business opportunities”,comments Richard Liu from Yole.

In this regard Yole’s imaging team has released today’s CMOS Camera Module Industry for Consumer & Automotive 2020 report.

This study provides the latest major information and key facts of the camera module industry. Including technical market segmentation, trends and forecasts, key players, key applications, this new report identifies and deeply analyses the ecosystem. It gives a detailed description of the market and technologies involved. In this latest edition, the market research and strategy consulting company is offering key insights for navigating the camera module market.

In parallel, System Plus Consulting’s analysts have released a report entirely dedicated to Samsung’s technical choices for its wild collection of smartphones: Smartphone Camera Module Comparison 2020 Vol 2: Focus on Samsung. Indeed, this report includes a complete technology and cost analysis of the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S10+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra, and gives detailed technical information about the cameras, such as module surface, camera volume, number and type of lenses, resolution, pixel size and CIS technology node. Moreover, this study delivers a summary of the other Samsung smartphone series, including the Galaxy Notes, Galaxy A series, Samsung Fold and Galaxy J.

What are the economic and technological challenges related to the camera module industry? What are the key drivers? Who are the suppliers to watch, and what innovative technologies are they working on? Both companies present today their vision of the camera module industry and disruptive technologies.

According to the new CMOS Camera Module Industry for Consumer & Automotive 2020 report, the desire to capture the perfect picture used to be accomplished through complex and expensive DSLR cameras and the use of interchangeable lens systems. The multiple lens possibility has therefore been the cornerstone in the pursuit of extreme imaging performance. Today's mobile cameras follow a similar mindset but using multiple fixed lenses to improve photography performance. Quickly adopted by large manufacturers, this trend led to 17.3% year-over-year growth in 2019.

In the automotive market, the trend is to massively adopt rear cameras and ADAS forward cameras. The average number of cameras per car goes up because of the need for new applications, such as the 360-degree view, in cabins and e-mirrors. Again, in this market the diversity in camera design is very high.

In the consumer electronics field, vision is an important element of smart products, assistant personal robotics and consumer drones. These new applications will increase the demand for cameras and drive the camera module market even higher in the years to come.

Pierre Cambou, Principal Analyst in the Photonic and Display Division at Yole, said: “In the mobile world, smartphone OEMs are in fierce competition to add camera functions and improve camera performance with increasing pixel resolution upgrades, combined with multiple-camera designs. The competition for the supply of high-quality CIS exceeded the worldwide capacity at the end of 2019, resulting in shortages and price hikes. While the recent pandemic tamed global economics, the camera module industry is expected to maintain double digit growth for the next five years”.

According to System Plus Consulting, in the Smartphone Camera Module Comparison 2020 Vol 2: Focus on Samsung report: the present state-of-the-art of CMOS technology provides better resolution and smaller pixels, low power consumption and cost improvements. In this context, Samsung is a major player among CIS manufacturers and high-end smartphone suppliers. 

Moreover, in recent years, we observed that Samsung has rolled-out multi-camera smartphones. Its technical choices are not always linear, showing Samsung is not afraid to innovate and test different solutions to enhance smartphone’s photography. to lift. For the consumer market, microLED remains an outsider for the time being.

Yole expects the revenue of the global camera module market to expand from $31.3bn in 2019 to $57.0bn in 2025, at 10.5% CAGR.

Beyond the sensor itself, innovations in all the different subcomponents of the camera module are in high demand. The introduction of periscope lenses was a major event that allowed five times or even ten times the optical magnification within the existing thickness of mobile phones. OIS is another critical technology for photography especially for telephoto, hence players are also looking for innovations in this area, using new materials, MEMS or liquid lens to replace the VCM approach.

Thanks to the additional techniques and innovation, camera modules are increasing in value significantly over the years. Technical upgrades of camera modules include the “Active Alignment” process to align multiple cameras well. There will be several innovations in camera module integration, like pop-up cameras or side-up cameras, and under-screen cameras in future. These innovations will integrate different materials from various sources, which should provide a great deal of opportunity to the market and facilitate the application of camera modules to more new products.

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