updated 04:30 pm EST, Wed February 23, 2011
OmniVision may not have 8MP cam in time for iPhone
OmniVision shares were shaken on Wednesday after unofficial supplier checks by Baird analyst Tristan Gerra suggested it might lose out on supplying cameras for the iPhone 5. An eight-megapixel sensor rumored for Apple's smartphone, most likely the OV8820, "may not be ready" for the mid-summer launch. Sony may have to step in and could have "all" of at least the first wave of orders, Gerra said.
He suggested that OmniVision may have been hurt at the end of 2010 by centering too much on Apple, ceding share on webcams for computers.
Although not mentioned, a separate note from Gleacher & Co.'s Doug Freedman hinted the problem might have stemmed from poor chip yields at TSMC, a well-known Taiwanese chip contractor. TSMC might be "backed-up" on orders due to the demand for smartphones and tablets, he said.
Apart from endorsing early rumors of an eight-megapixel camera for the 2011 iPhone revamp, the Baird note could be supported by Sony Ericsson's own introductions at Mobile World Congress this month. Phones like the Xperia Pro are using eight-megapixel cameras that have roughly the same back-illuminated, CMOS sensor technology as what OmniVision would offer, giving them good performance in low light and a minimum of noise relative to the tiny cellphone camera size.
With the exception of the iPhone 3G, Apple has regularly upgraded the camera in the iPhone each year, boosting the resolution and often adding better low-light performance or features such as autofocus and 720p video recording.
OmniVision hasn't commented on any issues, but it may have more answers when it discusses its fiscal results late Thursday afternoon. [via Forbes and EETimes]