Strategically Blogging

China Pricing War II

Martin Shih 11/17/2014

We recently took a trip to China to interview top manufacturers of LED components for our upcoming China Quarterly Updates Report. According to these major LED players, we are convinced that several LED trends we predicted in my blog at the beginning of this year did and are continuing to happen.

The Dental Laser Market Needs A Filling

Allen Nogee 10/31/2014

It was just 14 years ago when a group of dental professionals came together to form the World Clinical Laser Institute. This group was formed to promote and share their ideas and experiences and to advance dental care through the use of lasers. Today, the WCLI is the largest group of dental professionals supporting the use of lasers in dentistry; with 19,000 members, the use of lasers by the dental profession has not grown as fast as many had expected. Today, in the US, roughly 7% of all dentists use lasers, which means that 93% of dentists don’t. Of the four medical laser segments we track (cosmetic, ophthalmic, surgical, and dental), the dental area is growing the slowest.

Integrated vs. Non-Integrated Luminaires

Shonika Vijay 10/30/2014

As time goes on, it is becoming more and more apparent that LED lighting will soon take over. With the current ban of 40W through 100W incandescent light bulbs and the dropping prices of LED lighting, it is no surprise that LED lighting is the lighting of the present and will be lighting of the future. However, LED lighting was first, or in some cases still is, introduced into the market to replicate the incumbent technology so that consumers don’t get scared away by a lighting system that they can’t associate with their old one. What I mean here is that having a fixture where the consumer can physically take out the lamp and replace it if it burns out. Today, there seems to be plenty of interest in fixtures/luminaires where the lamp could be replaced.

When Will OLEDs be the Next Big Thing in Lighting?

Stephanie Pruitt 10/08/2014

OLEDs have been gaining in popularity lately, mainly in displays, but also more recently in general lighting. They offer many benefits over traditional and LED lighting, including being a surface emitting light source (as opposed to point emitting), being extremely thin, and having the capability to be flexible and even transparent. OLEDs open the doors to really innovative and creative light forms that were previously not possible with traditional lighting. However, they still have a ways to go in efficacy, lumen output, and price compared to their less expensive inorganic counterparts that are still struggling to really penetrate into the market.

Shonika Vijay

High-End Lighting Markets for Solid State Lighting

Shonika Vijay 09/30/2014

Lighting has always been seen as a commodity market. In fact, most people buy their light bulbs from the same place they buy their milk. It is a price war out there with slim profit margins on lighting products; meanwhile, the market keeps demanding higher quality. The general indoor lighting market mostly consists of the following form factors: downlights, troffers, suspended pendants, track lights, and high bay lights (a detailed market report of general lighting luminaires with these form factors along with all technologies will be released this November). Downlights and troffers make up the majority of the installed luminaire base for all regions. In order to compete for penetration in these installed luminaire bases, LED lighting has had to slash its prices while making sure it can sustain the light output levels of halogens, incandescent, and fluorescent technologies.

The photonics market, one year later

By Tom Hausken
Do you believe the stock market, GDP, or unemployment figures? Are we in a recovery, or still in recession? V-shaped, W-shaped, or U-shaped? As we do our annual survey and forecast for Laser Focus World magazine and the upcoming Marketplace Seminar , a lot of this gets mixed up. There will be more to come later, but here are some early thoughts.

Many public photonics companies have seen great stock returns. The stock market looks at future earnings--that is, profits--regardless of jobs or where the jobs are. A rising market says that investors think the future is good, and it's good for employee stock options and so forth. Some photonics stocks have shot way up, well beyond the average. LED companies in particular. Even those that haven't are seeing a bounce off the bottom, suggesting that it won't get worse. Stay tuned to this blog for more on this.

Small photonics companies span the spectrum. The stock market doesn't say anything about small businesses, but there are far more small, private photonics companies than public ones. I love these companies because many are much more profitable than their more visible brethren. For example, think of suppliers for military contracts, medical systems, and so forth. But, small businesses have very little wiggle room in a recession like this. California public radio explained it well in a piece today , using the example of a maker of tortilla-making equipment that sells for up to $3 million. It has gone from 55 employees to 9, and still has problems getting credit a year into the crisis.

Large capital equipment to make large capital equipment is hit hardest. The radio piece highlights a point I've been making, that the recession will be especially long for companies that make large capital equipment, and especially large capital equipment that makes large capital equipment. So for example, the market for welding systems for making cars is likely to be slow for another year or two, while the LED market will jump ahead next year.

Use economic indicators with caution. Use economic indicators with caution. One tool for forecasting is to look at economic indicators. Of course, they are complicated, but they can be very useful. But you do need to understand some of the limitations of the indicators, though. For example, Joe Webb points out in his blog article for the print industry how leading indicators often get it wrong . The blog piece is appropriately titled, "Beware the Cheerleaders."

Even as we all bask in the news that the economy grew last quarter, economists are working to correct errors that likely overstate the value of GDP growth. When goods and services are moved offshore, the total value may be counted in the current accounts, but it may not be allocated correctly to specific industries. It's as if you compare two companies that manufacture in China: one outsources it while the other operates it itself. The productivity of the former would look better than the latter if you don't count the outsourced labor.

A similar issue arises when you look at the trade deficit but not the entire current accounts, or for that matter, capital accounts. So what if iPhones are made in China? China adds only a few percent of the value, Japan adds much more, but the U.S. captures as much as 50% of the retail value. Yet, it looks as if it is imported from China so the other contributions are lost in our trade statistics. It should wash out in China's numbers, but not all of it will wash out in the U.S. numbers. But that is part of a very large topic, better saved for another time.

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