According to the market research firm iSuppli Corp., the light may be fading for Charge Coupled Device (CCD) image sensors as digital cameras, their principal application, switch to a less expensive and more efficient rival technology: the Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor.
In the total market for image sensors—devices that convert an optical image into an electrical signal—the unit share of CCD sensors continues to decrease in 2010 compared to that of the competing CMOS technology.
Of the total 1.7 billion units forecasted for the image sensor market this year, CCDs will account for a roughly 9.8 percent share, down from 11.4 percent in 2009. And while the decrease in unit share is slight, the trend appears to be irreversible, with CCD sensors to make up only 4.7 percent of the market by 2014.
In contrast, the CMOS image sensor market will expand its unit share of the market to 90.2 percent this year, up from 88.6 percent in 2009. The increase is borne on the back of growing demand from equipment like cameras in mobile handsets, video conferencing and automotive driver-assist applications.
"While CCDs long had been thought of as a superior technology for image quality, CMOS technology has made great strides in recent years and narrowed the technology gap," said Pamela Tufegdzic, Analyst (Consumer Electronics) at iSuppli. "Furthermore, CMOS sensors use fewer components, consume less power and are cheaper to manufacture."
And although CMOS has been the mainstream technology for some time now in handsets and high-end digital cameras called DSLRs, CMOS penetration continues to increase in lower-end, point-and-shoot digital still cameras—a traditional CCD stronghold. As a sign of their growing usage, CMOS sensors are gaining traction in compact cameras and camcorders from brand-name manufacturers that used CCDs for those products in the past—industry stalwarts such as Canon Inc., Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics, Eastman Kodak Co., Casio Computer and JVC, iSuppli has determined.
The migration to CMOS from CCD will continue unabated for point-and-shoot cameras. By next year, the proportion of point-and-shoot models using CMOS will climb to 24 percent, up from 14 percent in 2009. The shift to CMOS among DSLR cameras is occurring even much faster: By 2014, fully 99 percent of DSLR models will be based on CMOS sensors.
Learn more about image sensors and related developments in this market with Tufegdzic's upcoming report, entitled ‘Digital Still Cameras Keep CCD Alive, but for How Long?' at http://www.isuppli.com/Home-and-Consumer-Electronics/Pages/Image-Sensors-Digital-Still-Cameras-Keep-CCDs-Alive-But-for-How-Long.aspx?PRX