The Japanese consumer electronics group, Sony, is planning to invest $1.2 billion in image sensors in the next financial year.  The company announced Monday that they plan to expand their production of advanced image sensors currently used in digital cameras and mobile phones.  Sony currently produces 25,000 units.

This move comes as a contrast to past actions, where Sony had seen some cutting back.  Under its CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, thousands of jobs were cut, four out of its eight television factories were closed, and production was outsourced to lower-cost Asian suppliers.  In fact, Sony estimates that half of Sony brand televisions will be built by other manufacturers by the end of March, an increase from the 20% that was reported in March 2010.

The cutbacks come with reason, however, as Sony expressed that it would continue its traditional manufacturing model in areas that it has competitive advantage.  As the largest digital camera maker, second only to Canon, Sony’s investment may prove to be very profitable.  Sony is a supplier of high-end CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor), which are image-sensing chips.  It supplies these CMOS to other electronics groups, in addition to installing the chips into its own products.

In a deal estimated to be $50 billion, Sony also plans to buy back a plant it sold to Toshiba Corp and convert a portion of it to the production of CMOS.