Smartphone camera business to suffer from low profitability
South Korean camera module maker Partron’s aim to reduce its reliance to Samsung Electronics will be tested this year.
The company is planning to expand into automotive components due to powered profitability in the smart camera module sector.
Last year, Partron became a tier-1 camera module supplier to Hyundai Mobis. It filled the vacancy left by Mcnex, which became a tier-1 supplier to Hyundai Motor and Kia instead.
Partron will be competing with Sekonix, who is also a tier-1 camera supplier to Hyundai Mobis.
Samsung currently accounts between 70% to 80% of Partron’s sales. Partron was formed in 2003, when it split-off from Samsung Electro-Mechanics.
The company is expecting around 90 billion won in annual sales from its component supply to automobiles, more than double the 40 billion won in sales it earned from the sector in 2020.
It will be supplying LED, cameras and fingerprint readers for cars this year. Partron is betting on camera modules especially, which it supplies to Hyundai Mobis, to contribute to its long-term growth.
Camera modules for cars cost around US$25 per unit, much pricier than those supplied to smartphones which cost around US$10 per unit. However, the volume is much smaller and longer contracts are signed.
Mcnex last year garnered sales of 153.3 billion won from its component supply to the automobile industry. This is an increase from 2019’s 117.2 billion won and 2018’s 105.4 billion won.
Partron is expecting its sales to increase 20% and operating income 40% in 2021 compared to a year prior. This will equal 1.4 trillion won in sales and 58 billion won in operating income.
Partron’s estimate for its sales reflects its hopes that Samsung’s smartphone sales will recover this year. The Korean tech giant is expected ship more smartphones this year compared to 2020, while its adoption of quad-camera is expected to exceed those for triple-camera.
But profitability in the sector remains uncertain for camera module vendors like Partron. The company, along with Mcnex, Powerlogics and Cammsys, will now have to compete with Namuga and Coasia as well as the latter companies also joined Samsung’s camera module supply chain this year. Samsung Electro-Mechanics is also planning to supply camera modules to mid-tier smartphones made by Samsung, which includes Galaxy A52, A72 and A22.