Strategically Blogging

Revolution vs. Evolution

Philip Smallwood 01/22/2015

At the 2014 Strategies in Light Europe conference, there was one recurring theme that I thought was very interesting: evolution vs. revolution. I think it is very important for people in the lighting industry to understand that LEDs in themselves are not a revolutionary (disruptive) technology that is changing the industry, but rather a natural evolutionary progression of light emitting materials/methods to create usable light. As presented by Dr. Thomas Knoop, the Managing Director of INTEGRATED, a technology is disruptive in an industry when it attacks the market by offering a different value driver (usually convenience or price) and not when it just fulfills the need of the average customer. The two charts provided below are visualizations of these ideas. 

Lighting Industry: 2014 in Review and What to Expect Next

Shonika Vijay 01/19/2015

As the year 2014 recently ended, I thought now would be a good time to review what the lighting industry has gone through along with what lighting trends we anticipate in the near future. 2014 was an amazing year for LED lighting. Here a few recent key things that LED lighting experienced in 2014:

A 2014 Laser Market in Review

Allen Nogee 12/31/2014

With 2014 ending and 2015 starting, it is a good time to reflect on the year that has passed and look ahead to the year which is starting. Total worldwide laser revenue grew 6.5% in 2014 to $9.2 billion, which is a quite strong gain overall, despite the fact that prices of many laser types continue to drop.

There was not a single region or laser type which accounted for much of the gain (with the possible exception of fiber lasers, which had a great year), but rather 2014 was strong due to the lack of any significantly bad areas or segments.

Confessions of a Lighting Analyst: I Have Never Bought an LED Bulb

Stephanie Pruitt 12/22/2014

I have three large ceiling light fixtures in the middle of three rooms in my apartment. They each have three light bulbs in them, and one bulb in each fixture was burnt out (they are currently a mix of mainly incandescent with 1-2 CFLs). So, I decided I was going to finally purchase some LED bulbs. 

Having studied the LED and lighting market for two years now, attended multiple lighting trade shows and conferences, and spoken with numerous people in the top lighting companies, I always felt slightly guilty for not ever actually buying LED bulbs myself. I have done more research on LED lighting than your average consumer; I know all about the different types of lighting technologies, how they differ in wattage and lumen output, and CRI and CCT.

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 solar market and the 2nd-Derivative Paradox

By Tom Hausken
How could equipment sales in an exponentially-growing market be anything but upward? It happens all the time. Welcome to the 2nd-Derivative Paradox. That's my name for the trap that one can fall into when it comes to capital equipment markets. Solar is a great example. It's hard to explain the paradox, though, so bear with me.

Start with installed capacity. If you are a power generator, you think in terms of the cumulative installed generating capacity in the world. This is what the users actually use. The figure shows three scenarios how that might play out, and they all look pretty much the same in this chart. Nice, steep slopes. Note how they all start at the same point and end up at the same point.



Then look at panel shipments. But the solar panel industry isn't interested in what's already out there. It needs to ship new panels every year. The shipments amount to a 1st derivative: the new capacity that's added to the infrastructure every year. Now the differences in the scenarios show through, as shown in the second figure. But the scenarios all show steep upward growth. What's to worry about?


Now look at panel manufacturing equipment. The solar manufacturing equipment industry, and that includes lasers--isn't even interested in solar shipments, but the need for more manufacturing capacity to make the panels. You only need more equipment when you are shipping more panels than before. That amounts to a 2nd derivative of the cumulative generating capacity, and can give wildly different results. New equipment is shipped in all three scenarios, but in the "sustaining" scenario the equipment shipments are flat year after year, while in the "slowing" scenario they start out strong, but then decline. Ouch.

Other traps. Of course we would all like to live in the "growing" scenario. The trouble is, strong positive exponential growth doesn't last indefinitely, no matter what they say. And that's not even considering some ups and downs along the way, like this year. A slight shift in the solar panel shipments wreaks total havoc for equipment shipments.



Other things that juice equipment sales. The same trap exists in other industries, too. But there are other details to consider. First, there is usually some churn in suppliers. Machines also get obsolete. And there is also the early obsolescence forced by things like Moore's Law. These all have to be considered.

Watch that 2nd derivative. Don't get me wrong. I love solar. I had a summer job at TI testing solar cells back in the Jimmy Carter era. We all believe it's going to be a great thing in coming decades. But it's not enough that the cumulative generating capacity will be on a steep upward slope for years to come, because when it comes to manufacturing equipment, it's the 2nd derivative that counts.

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