Strategically Blogging

Lasers in Medical Imaging: The Forecast Looks Very Bright

Allen Nogee 07/11/2014

Almost all medical imaging to date has used one of three technologies: X-rays, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound. X-rays alone have been used for almost 120 years now, and although today’s imaging technology has improved vastly over the many years, the fact remains that x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetism are all technologies that, due to many factors, produce coarse images, at least by today’s standards. But what if a very coherent light source was used instead, maybe a laser?

Actually, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which produces images based on the reflections of coherent light, is not a new technology. OCT has been used since the early 1990s, especially in the area of ophthalmology, where the images produced by OCT are 100 times finer than standard images produced by ultrasound. In just the last five years, OCT has become one of the most important retinal imaging techniques used today.

The Impact of the Epistar Acquisition on the LED Industry

Martin Shih 07/09/2014

Epistar (2448.TW) announced a plan to fully acquire Forepi (3061.TW), the second-largest chipmaker in Taiwan, through a share swap (1:3.448), implying 18% share dilution to Epistar. The effective date will be the end of 2014, and Forepi will be delisted from the TAIEX.

After the merger, Epistar will become the world’s largest LED chip maker in terms of capacity with a global market share of 15%, which will better position the company to lead in future technology development.

EPA's New Emissions Cutting Plan Could Have an Effect on LED Lighting

Philip Smallwood 06/30/2014

On June 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EPA will finalize the proposal in mid-2015 and then give states a year to design their own plans to meet targets. The organization will let states meet emission targets for power plants in several ways, including through plant upgrades, by switching from coal to natural gas, by improving energy efficiency, or by promoting renewable energy outside the plant site. This approach will give states greater flexibility in designing plans to meet the EPA’s targets.

Where's the Glare?

Shonika Vijay 06/13/2014

LIGHTFAIR, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, took place in Las Vegas last week. I wanted to share my thoughts on what I saw that was of the most interest. The 3 main things I saw were: a lot of LED luminaires, more use of optics in products, and lighting controls being present in nearly every booth. To read up more on controls, please see our blogs: Let's Talk Controls and Lightfair International Gets Smart. I will focus on what I saw in terms of optics and LED luminaires.

Lightfair International Gets Smart

Stephanie Pruitt 06/10/2014

At Lightfair International 2013, it seemed only a handful of companies had a booth with a smart lighting solution - Philips, TCP, and Samsung were among the more recognizable ones that I noticed. Fast forward one year and it seems that smart lighting could be found at almost every booth; even the non-name brand booths seemed to have some sort of solution. Whether this was wireless controls to dim lights or change color through your smart phone - or even gesture control...

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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