Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Would the Real Maker of the iPhone’s Camera Please Stand Up?

We have new information concerning the mysterious camera — make that cameras plural — inside Apple’s iPhone 4S.

As you may remember, for whatever reason, probably competitive concerns, Apple takes great pains to obfuscate the identity of the company that supplies it with the cameras inside the handset. When IHS iSuppli shared the findings of its teardown analysis with me yesterday, its analysts had no idea who had built that particular part. Two candidates were mentioned: Largan Precision Co. of Taiwan and OmniVision.

A hint had come from a teardown analysis by another company, Chipworks, which had taken the iPhone apart, put its individual chips under a microscope and found a Sony-made imaging sensor inside it.

One reader wrote in to point out this story from April in The Wall Street Journal, detailing an interview in New York between AllThingsD’s own Walt Mossberg and Sony CEO Howard Stringer, where Stringer is quoted talking about how Sony supplies Apple with cameras. “It always puzzles me,” Stringer said at the time. “Why would I make Apple the best camera?”

So there’s some confirmation, of sorts, that Sony is supplying Apple with at least a part of one of the cameras in the iPhone. Analysts have speculated that Apple, always careful about its supply chain arrangements, has probably tapped two suppliers for the main camera, and that Sony and OmniVision are sharing the job.

Now we have even more information. In an update to its analysis of the phone, Chipworks said today that OmniVision appears to be the supplier of the secondary, front-facing camera in the iPhone. As Barron’s noted today, OmniVision’s stock shot up on that revelation.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work