Nikon doesn't make a fraction of the revenue Canon does on their photography division. That doesn't bode well for future Nikon innovation. As it stands, the bulk of the innovation in Nikon's most recent camera bodies came from other companies, like Sony. That is a precarious position to be in...relying on other companies so much. If any one of them faltered or failed, Nikon could be dragged right down with them.
This is a point so important that it is staggering! There are not a lot of companies out there producing large quantities of imaging sensors that could go into DSLR's... What happens if Sony fails, or at the least, gets rid of the portion of it's business that makes the sensors for Nikon? Hopefully, someone will buy that division and the production will continue, but if it doesn't, Nikon will be out of business until someone else can set up a production line and get up to speed... a process that will take years....
I think Nikon could probably fabricate their own sensors. They used to in years past. Their management thought it would be more profitable to stop investing money in their own fabrication, and buy their sensors and the like third party.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but doesn't Nikon fab the D4 sensor?
They designed it, or at least had a hand in its design, much like the D800 sensor. I am not sure they actually manufactured it...I thought Aptina did the actual fabrication.
Could be. This is what I found: http://nikonrumors.com/2012/08/22/the-sensor-inside-the-d4-is-made-by-nikon.aspx/
but it is hardly conclusive. I have worked for companies which sell circuit cards. They usually went outside for fab, but included their logo in a silkscreen layer.
Either way, it's not particularly relevant. Even if they build sensors for the D4, D3200, etc., Sony halting their line would be a huge speedbump for Nikon.
Yeah, kind of hard to be conclusive about it. Some of Canon's parts have Canon's name on them, but fabrication markings from other fabs. For example, DIGIC5 has Canon's name, because they designed it (along with Ti), but it was fabbed by UMC (http://www.chipworks.com/en/technical-competitive-analysis/resources/blog/inside-the-canon-rebel-t4i-dslr/). I know Nikon has had a hand in designing most if not all of the parts that are included in their cameras. I honestly don't know when they last fabbed their own sensor, though.
As far as Canon goes, I am very curious to see Chipworks tear apart whatever new sensor finds it's way into the 7D II. If it has some radical changes, especially a die shrink, I'd be very curious to know if it was fabbed by Canon, or fabbed elsewhere.