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Claims of Sony cameras in iPhone 5 'silly,' Apple likely to keep OmniVision

It's highly unlikely that Sony's chief executive would bad-mouth Apple if the company were to actually supply camera lenses for its next-generation iPhone, one Wall Street analyst believes. Instead, there is evidence that Apple will stick with OmniVision for its lenses.

Comments by Sony CEO Howard Stringer gained significant traction last week when they were interpreted to mean that the company could supply an 8 megapixel camera for Apple's anticipated iPhone 5. Previously, Omnivision was the supplier for the 5 megapixel camera in the iPhone 4, and the 3.2 megapixel camera found in the iPhone 3GS.

Analyst Yair Reiner with Oppenheimer & Co. said he expects that OmniVision will remain the camera supplier for Apple's fifth-generation iPhone. He said checks with contacts in Apple's supply chain have indicated that OmniVision sensors will be used in the next iPhone.

In addition, Stringer, in an interview with Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, took a shot at Apple when he saw an audience member holding an iPad. "Be careful it doesn't burn you if you wave it around," Stringer reportedly said.

The original article also quoted Stringer as saying: "It always puzzles me, why would I make Apple the best camera?" Reiner interpreted this as a rhetorical question meant to suggest that Sony would not help Apple by supplying cameras for the next iPhone.

"A closer look at the article that sparked the conjecture suggests Stringer implied just the opposite — i.e. that the notion of such a hook-up was rather silly," Reiner said. "Based on our independent field work, we continue to strongly believe that OmniVision has won the image sensor slots on the next iPhone."

Reiner said that he believes the "blogosphere has grossly inverted the meaning of Stringer's statements." However, the original report from writer Jessica E. Vascellaro of the Journal also raised the question of what Stringer meant by his comments.

"It is unclear what devices he was talking about as Sony isn't known to supply key camera components, known as image sensors, to Apple," Vascellaro wrote. "A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment and an Apple spokesperson couldn't be reached for comment."

Recent reports have suggested that Apple will not show off a new iPhone at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, as it has done in years past. Numerous stories have claimed that Apple is planning a later launch date this year.

That launch could perhaps be as late as the company's 2012 fiscal year, starting in late September, as the company has apparently not yet begun to order components for its fifth-generation iPhone.