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Did Sony CEO leak plans for iPhone 5 camera?

Reports say Sony chief may have let slip that Sony is making camera components for Apple's next-generation iPhone--and that delivery of the components is delayed due to factory damage in Japan.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer fueled speculation that Sony would be supplying the camera for the iPhone 5--and that it would be late doing so. Apple

The tech blogosphere is abuzz this morning with news that Sony CEO Howard Stringer may have accidentally leaked word that Sony was supplying the camera sensor for the iPhone 5--and that delivery of that sensor has been delayed due to factory damage in Japan.

During an interview with The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Stringer reportedly was talking about how Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami had affected 15 Sony factories. One of those factories happens to be where Sony makes its camera sensors.

9to5Mac's Seth Weintraub was at the event, which the public paid $20 to attend (the event was called Talking Tech with Sony and The Wall Street Journal). He reported the following:

I'm here watching Walt Mossberg talk to Sony's CEO, Sir Howard Stringer. Stringer just said that their camera image sensor facility in Sendai was affected by the tsunami. Getting image sensors to Apple will be delayed. Stinger said something to the effect of: "Our best sensor technology is built in one of the (tsunami) affected factories. Those go to Apple for their iPhones...or iPads. Isn't that something? They buy our best sensors from us?"

That's not an exact quote from Stringer but later The Wall Street Journal, reporting on its own event, mentioned the camera comment:

Early on, he raised the irony of Sony supplying camera components for Apple devices. It "always puzzles me," he said. "Why would I make Apple the best camera?" 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; A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment and an Apple spokesperson couldn't be reached for comment.

OmniVision has been providing the image sensors for the iPhone 4, but recent rumors have suggested that Apple was switching to Sony camera components for the iPhone 5. Word was Apple was looking at Sony's Exmor R 8MP sensors, which are found in the new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Neo smartphones (the iPhone 4 has a 5MP sensor). While users have been impressed with the iPhone 4's video shooting capabilities, some have complained that indoor still shots have a yellow tinge to them. Apple has been rumored to be moving to Sony sensors for a while.

If indeed the delivery of the sensors is delayed, the question is whether the iPhone 5 will be delayed. Some recent reports suggest that the iPhone 5 will ship in the fall instead of in June, with Apple focusing exclusively on software at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Of course, none of that's confirmed and many believe Apple will announce a next-generation iPhone this summer as it has in the past.