Sony will invest in a new factory in Nagasaki Prefecture to produce semiconductor image sensors used in smartphone cameras, Nikkei has reported.
Sony plans to allocate 100 billion yen ($918 million) for the project in its budget for the next fiscal year, and to have the plant online as soon as the fiscal year that starts in April 2021. Sony's plant will produce complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor image sensors for smartphones.
Sony expects the market for image sensors to continue growing as smartphone makers equip their products with increasingly sophisticated cameras. It believes demand will also get a boost as next-generation 5G networks become more widespread, and self-driving cars and factory automation come into use.
Sony was the world's biggest image sensor maker in 2018, with a 50% market share. It aims to use the new plant to lift its global share to 60% by 2025. Rival Samsung Electronics, which commands a 20% share of the global image sensor market, is also expanding its investment.
The company's semiconductor business posted an operating profit of 143.9 billion yen ($1.32 billion) in the fiscal year through last March -- 16% of Sony's total profits before consolidation adjustments.