In a recent interview, Sony CEO Howard Stringer said that his company was gearing up to supply Apple with a powerful 8 megapixel camera, most likely for use in its forthcoming iPhone 5.
Stringer told WSJ how Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami had affected 15 Sony factories. One of those factories happens to be where Sony makes its camera sensors. That slowdown would hit Apple he said, though he didn't specify which product Apple was using them for.
It always puzzles me, Stringer said. Why would I make Apple the best camera?
While not clear, the comments lend credence to reports earlier this year that Apple's primary provider of these parts was running into trouble that could lead for Sony to get the account.
Semiconductor company Omnivision has typically been in the driver seat for Apple's products. The company supplied Apple with the cameras in the iPhone 3GS and the iPads.
In February it said its newest 8MP camera would be ready for volume shipment later this year, but some experts at the time disputed the claim.
FBR Capital's Craig Gerra said at the time that his field checks suggested the part will not be ready by the time Apple ships the iPhone 5, which he expects this July. Because of that, Gerra said Sony would win the slot in the iPhone 5.
While Sony may get some Apple business this year, Gleacher & Co's Doug Freedman wrote that he doesn't think Apple will give all of it to Sony, as they're a competitor and it's not proven Sony can deliver parts Apple needs in volume.
Apple's iPhone lineup has taken other smartphone manufacturers by suprise, snapping up marketshare and a strong following. But it also has a lot of headroom for growth as its market share is about 25 percent within smart phones and only 3 percent in total mobile phones.