Sony makes $192 million more from image sensors than PlayStations

Sony makes $192 million more from image sensors than PlayStations
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony makes a lot of money from selling image sensors. A LOT of money. Even more money than it makes from selling PlayStations. A LOT more. Sony is on track to make $1.92 billion in profit from its image sensors – a whopping $192 million more than it makes from its videogames division. 

Obviously Sony makes the sensors for its own cameras, such as the new Sony A7S III. It has also been the exclusive provider of sensors for Apple since 2010, so you'll find Sony sensors inside the upcoming iPhone 12. 

However, it also sells sensors to other camera manufacturers – some of the best Nikon cameras (opens in new tab) and best Olympus cameras (opens in new tab) have Sony sensors inside them, like the Nikon D850 (opens in new tab) along with some of the best medium format cameras (opens in new tab) like the Fujifilm GFX 100 (opens in new tab)

That's because very few camera manufacturers actually produce their own sensors, with even Canon only accounting for some 7% of the image sensor market. Sony, by contrast, dominates with over 50% of global sensor sales. And within the smartphone sector it holds an astonishing 70% stranglehold, meaning that the majority of the best camera phones (opens in new tab) are powered by Sony image sensors.

"For years, image sensors were such a small slice of Sony’s business they were a rounding error," wrote Forbes (opens in new tab) (thanks, Sony Alpha Rumors (opens in new tab)). "In fact, they got lumped in with the 'other devices,' which included batteries and tape recorders.

"But the growth in sensor sales over the past three years has been nothing short of remarkable. This year Sony will generate more profits from imaging than any of its other business lines. Sensors are on track to generate $1.92 billion in profits… 10% more than Sony’s long-established gaming arm. And when it comes to quality, Sony is in a league of its own. Its image sensors are so far ahead, it charges 2x as much as its closest competitor [Samsung]."

So, even if you're a Sony hater, be grateful that the company is doing so well – you're probably using at least one Sony image sensor even if you don't know about it, whether it's in your camera, your phone or even your dash cam (opens in new tab)!

Read more: 

The best Sony camera (opens in new tab): from full-frame Alphas to compact Cyber-shots
Nikon D850 review (opens in new tab)
iPhone 11 Pro review (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.