Confirming earlier rumors, Sony has announced that it's negotiating terms to take over Toshiba's CMOS image sensor business, boosting production capabilities in what has become perhaps the company's most important tech division. Toshiba's fabrication facilities, equipment, and employees at its plant in the southern Japanese city of Oita are set to come under Sony control; the two companies plan to have legally binding agreements in place by the end of this year, with the transfer to be completed by the financial year ending in March 2016. No financial details have been disclosed.
Sony dominates the sensor market
Sony recently said it would spin off its image sensor business into a new wholly-owned subsidiary called Sony Semiconductor Corporation, and Toshiba's operations are set to come under that umbrella. For Toshiba's part, the deal will allow the company to "devote its resources to products where it has a high technological advantage," according to Sony's statement; the company is currently undergoing restructuring following a high-profile accounting scandal.
Apart from Sony's own well-regarded range of digital cameras, image sensors are important to the company because they represent its best chance to profit from the proliferation of smartphones. Apple has long used Sony sensors in the iPhone, and recently companies like Xiaomi and Google have touted the inclusion of Sony chips in their own products. Sony also dominates the sensor market for high-end cameras — almost all Nikon interchangeable lens cameras have Sony sensors, for example.