I’m here watching Walt Mossberg talk to Sony’s CEO, Sir Howard Stringer.  Stringer just said that their camera image sensor facility in Sendai was affected by the recent tsunami/quake.  In the next breath, he said something to the effect of getting image sensors to companies like Apple will be delayed.

Paraphrased: “Our best sensor technology is built in one of the (tsunami) affected factories.  Those go to Apple for their iPhones…or iPads.  Isn’t that something?  They buy our best sensors from us?”

Update: Interestingly, Sony doesn’t currently make any sensors for Apple, though there are rumors that the company was dumping OmniVision for the iPhone 5.  Perhaps this delay is a factor in the delay of the iPhone 5.

Apple might have been eying Sony’s new Exmor R camera sensors, as found in the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc (you can read our preview and check some camera samples here), and the recently announced Xperia neo. The 8MP camera sensor there is backlit, which helps it cope with low light situations, similar to what the current 5MP OmniVision sensor in the iPhone 4 does. Watch a video demo of what backlighting does with the Exmor R sensor a Sony Ericsson rep gave us at the MWC Expo last week after the source link.

Update 2: The Street reported in April 2010 that the fifth generation iPhone would pack an 8 megapixel camera from Sony. The same report correctly predicted a 5 megapixel sensor for the iPhone 4. Perhaps Stringer’s comment is evidence that the next-generation iPhone will have an 8 megapixel camera. Boom.

The Wall St. Journal confirms Stringer was talking about Apple cameras but they fail to put it in context with the Sendai factory comments:

Early on, he raised the irony of Sony supplying camera components for Apple devices. It “always puzzles me,” he said. “Why would I make Apple the best camera?”

It is unclear what devices he was talking about as Sony isn’t known to supply key camera components, known as image sensors, to Apple; A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment and an Apple spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment.

Perhaps Sony could also be producing the camera for the next generation iPod nano?


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Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites.

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