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EXCLUSIVE: Chip fire to hit camera supply?

A devastating three-day fire which broke out on October 20 at Japanese high-end IC components factory, AKM Semiconductor, is reported to be having serious ongoing supply impacts for several camera manufacturers.

AKM Chip fire
The AKM Nobeoka fire burned uncontrolled for three days, destroying the factory. The impact across the audio and broader consumer electronics industry – including digital camera manufacture – is yet to be fully understood.

A reliable industry source has told Inside Imaging the factory in Nobeoka city supplies  most Japanese camera makers. AKM is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of large-scale integrated circuits (LSIs), including digital-to-analog converters (DACs), analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), as well as other components used in the manufacture of  consumer and professional products in the audio and appliance industries.

While it’s not clear at time of writing exactly which components camera manufacturers are sourcing from AKM, the factory made ADC chips which take analog audio from a microphone and converts it to the digital signal that a camera records when shooting video. Just as smartphones are now cameras, cameras are increasingly becoming sophisticated, broadcast-quality audio recording devices, and the connection with a supplier like AKM is by no means peripheral.

The fire destroyed the factory, which won’t be back in production for at least six months and perhaps as long as one year, according to reports.

The AKM fire will have a massive impact on the supply of high end audio devices. Pro-audio manufacturers around the globe are now facing anticipated shortages of crucial DAC and ADC chips used in their products. Top audio brands such as Denon, Marantz, Anthem, Onkyo and Tascam use AKM DAC’s in their AV receivers and processors.

According to electronic component news website, the shortage of AKM components has resulted in soaring prices as it scrambles to outsource manufacturing. ‘Industry insiders said that the shortage will be difficult to solve in the short term, which will become the biggest chip supply difficulty encountered by the audio industry over the years,’ wrote Semimedia.

Inside Imaging has been told that Canon, Nikon and Sony have already pulled back support for Black Friday promotions ‘as there will be a shortage of stock due to fire in (the) Japan factory,’ according to the source.

The impact of the AKM fire – along with supply disruptions due to Covid, and big hikes in air and sea freight charges – is likely to see increased prices for cameras, as well as other high-end, AV-oriented consumer electronics  such as TVs and sound bars – through 2021:




  1. Andraz Andraz December 7, 2020

    Uhh, not good news for all consumers! It will definitely take some time to reassemble all production on a level before the fire.

  2. Pixel Admin Pixel Admin December 13, 2020

    Looks like this will seal the fate of digital camera industry in 2020. Have linked to this article in this report

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