Strategically Blogging

GE Plans to Stop CFL Business

02/01/2016

Since the bans on inefficient light bulbs have been happening around the globe (including in the US starting in 2012), it has made sense that lighting manufacturers have been slowing down on the production of incandescent and halogen bulbs – the least efficient types of bulbs. CFLs were the replacement bulb of choice across many markets, with LEDs making a slow start due to much higher prices. Now, however, we’re beginning to see the shift away from CFLs as well. 

The 2016 Smart Lighting Market

Shonika Vijay 01/27/2016

The hype of the connected lighting or smart lighting or networked lighting or even IoT of lighting has spread throughout the lighting industry as well as the network and technology companies. Nontraditional lighting companies such as SAP, Google, Cisco, Apple, and Microsoft are targeting the lighting landscape through network infrastructure familiar to them and are also partnering with existing lighting players such as Acuity, Philips, Osram and etc. who are familiar with the end-users and regulatory demands of the market.

In the Year of Light, Lasers Started To Really Shine

Allen Nogee 01/19/2016

As everyone is aware, Strategies Unlimited is the leader in both laser research and LED lighting research, and rarely do the applications of these two widely different light “sources” usually overlap. Lasers can be used for illumination tasks such as semiconductor inspection where a laser illuminates a semiconductor wafer when one looks for defects, but when it comes to general illumination of white light used by us humans for vision, this task almost has always been the domain of LEDs, or at least it has until very recently.

Laser Outlook For 2016

Allen Nogee 12/16/2015

There is some fair debate going on now as to whether our worldwide economy is on an upswing or a downswing. But does this really matter to the laser market?  

When Economic Justification of Connected Lighting Becomes Difficult

Shonika Vijay 12/08/2015

Making decisions to change the lighting system of a business are currently conducted by evaluating the listed economic metrics and then deciding if the business will reap tangible benefits for implementing the changes... While connected lighting has been proven to add tangible benefits such as reduced energy consumption there are other nontangible benefits that may be onerous to prove through current economic parameters. 

Munich Part 2--Consolidation?

By Tom Hausken
A question that comes up at every big industry event is, when is the laser industry going to consolidate? It came up in my conversations at Laser Munich last week, and it came up in the CEO Roundtable (for a full video, click here ). This time, I posed the question to the CEOs: is there really an argument for consolidation, or is it just code for "let's get these lifestyle companies out of our way so my big company can keep growing."

Their answers were interesting, and were supported in many other discussions I had last week.

Stuart Schoenmann of CVI Melles Griot made the argument that consolidation across products produces economies of scale that can enable things you cannot do with smaller companies. Larger scale frees up management to make more optimal and strategic choices, whether it is where it is putting its R & D money or whether to outsource or not.

Ulrich Simon of Carl Zeiss Microimaging argued for consolidation in the vertical direction to own core technologies, : providing advantages that cannot be gained in a more stratified supply chain. Trumpf has often made that argument.IPG has gone that route, too.

David Marks of Qioptiq acknowleged that the industry needs to continue to support small companies , in part for the innovation that they bring. As much as start-ups must seem like spoilers,VCs have funded a lot of innovation that never paid them a penny in return, and the people and IP often wind up in the big companies. There is a lot less of that nowadays, but it still happens.

John Ambroseo of Coherent closed with a rousing argument that the real competition is not other laser companies, but all the other technologies out there --mechanical drills and shears, other medical treatments, other types of sensors. Without consolidation, the laser industry spends inefficiently on redundant R&D, distracting the industry from bigger opportunities.

I've always maintained that consolidation means different things to different people. To me, consolidation is only meaningful in specific market segments. It's when a few competitors have most of the market share. (Consolidation is the process. Concentration is the result.) This can happen when companies consolidate internally, by exiting product lines, but it's often hard to know this from outside. The laser industry is highly fragmented into hundreds of niches. It turns a big laser company into what I call a "confederation of business units. They do gain advantages in scale, to be sure, but it is also more complex to manage. It's hard to manage such big, sprawling companies. It's also hard to grow when you are already a big dog.

Not mentioned was that some segments seem to favor consolidation more than others. This leads into another topic that came up at Laser Munich: is it too late for a company trying to make it big in fiber lasers? I'll address that in a later post.

For other thoughts on consolidation, see:
Fragmentation depends on your point of view
Consolidation, Part 2--Is Oclaro consolidation or redistribution?
Consolidation in the laser market, Part 1--How much is there?

Tom Hausken
Strategies Unlimited
thausken@strategies-u.com
http://www.strategies-u.com/

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