Sony's image sensor plants in southern Japan were hit by the powerful earthquakes in Japan, which has led to halting of operations in the Nagasaki and Kumamoto units in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The electronics manufacturing company said it would extend the closure of its image sensor plants while it assesses the damage caused from the two deadly earthquakes on Thursday and Saturday.
Sony's image sensor production factories produce digital image sensors — specifically the complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors used in smartphones and cameras. Apple uses these sensors in the iPhones, and prolonged closure of the supply sources could likely affect the availability of its products, PC World reported. But it's too soon to tell if the iPhone 7 launch, which is expected to happen in September 2016, will be affected by this catastrophe.
"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."
The spokesperson also said it has some inventories to avoid any supply disruption and the company would make an announcement by Monday afternoon on when the operations can be resumed, Tech First Post reported. Sony accounts for about 40 percent of the CMOS sensor market.
The second earthquake that rocked southern Japan on Saturday was measured at 7.3 magnitude, and described by the local media as the strongest since 2011. The first earthquake on Thursday was recorded at 6.5 magnitude, and nearly 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the Kumamoto Prefecture since then.
Reuters reported at least 32 dead as a result of Saturday's quake. Reuters also said Thursday's quakes killed nine people. Thousands have been injured by the quakes. The consecutive earthquakes in Japan's manufacturing hub has also paused operations for other companies.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp, which produces liquid crystal display modules, Renesas Electronics Corp, the maker of microcontroller chips for automobiles, Honda Motors, Toyota Motors and Nissan have halted productions at their respective manufacturing plants in the affected regions.