Sony halts production of image sensors

Toyo—Electronics giant Sony Corp said a factory producing image sensors for Apple Inc and other smartphone makers will remain closed while it assesses the damage from two deadly earthquakes which hit southern Japan. Sony said it would extend the closure of its image sensor plant in Kumamoto, which is in the southern island of Kyushu, after major tremors on Thursday and Saturday rocked the key-manufacturing region.
The PlayStation maker said operations at its image sensor plant in Nagasaki, also in Kyushu, will be partially suspended and does not yet have a timeline for full resumption of operations. Sony controls about 40% of the market for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors, a type of integrated circuit that converts light into electrical signals. The sensors are used in Apple’s iPhones. “We are still checking for potential damage to the plants, which usually operate on a 24-hour basis,” a Sony spokesman told Reuters on Saturday. “We do not yet know how the closures will impact supply to customers like Apple.”
A devastating earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan in March 2011 temporarily knocked out part of Japan’s auto supply chain. Some companies have since adjusted the industry’s “Just in Time” production philosophy to limit any repeat of that costly disruption.—Agencies

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