Front End I News
Afdec forecasts a flat 2013, but sees return to growth in the second half
fdec, the Manufacturer's Authorised Distributor group within the Electronics Components Supply
Network (ecsn) is forecasting a flat 2013 for the UK and Ireland electronics components market, although it does expect to see a return to growth in the second half of the year. According to Aubrey Dunford, ecsn Market Analyst, "Returns from our members forecast that the UK/Ireland market will continue to improve sequentially throughout 2013, with positive growth returning in the second half of the year. While we are likely to see a slight reduction in the TAM (down 1% at £2.58bn), the DTAM i.e. the Distributor Total Available Market will remain around the same and will therefore take a larger share of the total." According to Afdec the DTAM contracted by 14% in 2012 to stand at
just over £1bn while the TAM fell back to £2.6bn, a fall of over 16 percent. Dunford confirmed that the 'Book- to-Bill' ratio started to trend upwards in March 2012 confirming an improving trend in overall demand and suggesting that some momentum was gathering in terms of a broader recovery. He said, "We have seen an extended period of weak demand resulting in a continued inventory correction right across the global electronics market. Lead times for modest volumes are currently around four weeks with many manufacturers reducing spare capacity, which will take time to bring back on-line as and when demand increases." Adam Fletcher, afdec chairman, said of the finding that the problems in the Eurozone and elsewhere had contributed to a continued deterioration in both consumer and business confidence, which as a result was causing limited supply network visibility. "Most of our members are beginning to conclude that uncertainty is now the 'new normal' and along with their supply network partners are having to adapt their systems and processes in order to cope with greater dynamic change."
While the prospects for growth in 2013
were seen as weak, a number of afdec members suggested that it simply reflected the changing role of the UK in the global electronics market.
"In common with the US and the rest of Europe the UK has increasingly become
New OLED TV: LG has launched a new 55in OLED TV in a move that is likely to trigger a new battle over the next-generation of high-quality screens. The new models will be sold in South Korea first with other markets, including Europe, to follow. The OLED television is expected to sell for over £6k and analysts don’t expect the technology to become more affordable until at least 2015. Despite that sales of OLED televisions are expected to grow to 1.7 million by 2014, according to research firm DisplaySearch.
a 'design centre' for manufacturing operations in the East," suggested Nigel Watts, the managing director or Ismosys. "The design wins generated in the UK in 2013 will probably be worth twice the actual sales revenue."
Graham Maggs, Mouser's Director Marketing EMEA, said, "Although the overall market appears to be flat, the UK has always been a powerhouse of design which is why companies, like Mouser, see business growing here. Distribution must support design activity by providing comprehensive information resources, the latest technologies and immediate access to parts."
Fletcher said that the continued inventory correction being seen was being exacerbated by weaker than expected global consumer demand, which has helped to reduce growth in the electronic components market in China to around 5 percent, from a more traditional 7-8 percent. "When the largest market sneezes we all catch a cold!"
Wireless infrastructure market set to thrive in 2013 A
ccording to CommScope's Senior Vice President - Wireless, Morgan Kurk, the wireless infrastructure market is set to thrive during 2013 building on the success of the mobile data boom that looks set to continue into 2013 and beyond.
Speaking to CIE he said, “The volume of data running across mobile networks is increasing exponentially year-on-year, stretching its capacity as never before. This pressure is only going to increase for operators in 2013, as the additional demands of 4G-enabled services, like video, go mainstream. Vodafone Germany, which has been quick to deploy LTE services, has already found that 75% of its traffic is from video.”
Subscribers now consider mobile connectivity an indispensable utility. “As far as mobile users are concerned, data is data,” he explains. “ Whether they stream or download content over one technology or another isn’t important to them, their main concern is having a connection capable of delivering the service they want, wherever and whenever they want it. If such services are not available, operators not only miss out on revenue opportunities, but their customers may become frustrated by the lack of connectivity and go elsewhere. No operator can afford this in an environment of greater than 100% penetration and falling voice and SMS revenue streams.” Kirk believes that the three big issues operators face in expanding network capacity are site acquisition, power and backhaul.
“As has been the case for many years, in 2013 site acquisition will remain the
4 December 2012/January 2013
biggest problem. While every subscriber wants seamless coverage and capacity, operators are increasingly encountering NIMBY (not in my backyard) when it comes to cell sites. To solve this, existing cell sites will be increasingly sectorised – moving from the ubiquitous three sector configuration to six sectors and beyond. To provide even more capacity and speed in urban areas, operators will look to install a microcell layer (sometimes referred to as metrocells) on street furniture and buildings.
“For operators, spectrum is beach front
property. It is a limited resource and purchasing spectrum from governments for wireless networks is expensive. Inefficient use of existing spectrum is like putting a shack on a piece of prime real estate, it reduces it’s value to the operator.” Throughout 2013 operators will look to deploy technologies to make more efficient use of existing spectrum. “Operators are fully engaged in a network refresh cycle as they continue to upgrade their networks to HSDPA+ in existing frequency bands and implement LTE in new spectrum. The push to LTE and the consequential implementation of
Components in Electronics
Many predict that OLED screens will allow for the development of a new generation of "bendy" gadgets, some of which are expected to be unveiled over the course of the year. Samsung currently uses the technology in its smartphones, and Sony's PlayStation Vita handheld console also uses the thin, light technology.
Download market tops £1bn: More than £1bn was spent on downloaded films, music and games in 2012, the highest annual total ever, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association. Sales increased 11.4% from 2011, meaning that a quarter of the entertainment market is now digital. Sales of CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray and video games fell by 17.6% in 2011 although they still make up most of the market.
More than half of the digital sales went on video games, which grew 8% to £552m. Films and music had a smaller share of the digital market but saw strong growth - downloaded films were up by 20% and music by 15%.
MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) is a recognition that even Shannon‘s law limitations are being broken in an effort to satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand for mobile data.”
Sitting on the horizon, but as yet unfulfilled, is SON (Self Optimising Network) - a concept that allows a network to better manage noise and other interference. This, believes Kirk, will be critical to support any substantial increase in the number of cell sites and is very important for raising capacity and data rates. “With 2012 seemingly the year that the
promise of 4G started to be fulfilled, it might seem insolent to whisper the word 5G. Nevertheless, 2013 will see operators discussing what the requirements are for next generation connectivity. While the speed of handset replacements is measured in months, the general cycle of wireless standards evolution has proven to take significantly longer. A new protocol is typically standardized close to the end of one decade and reaches general acceptance worldwide by the middle of the next.”
Operators are forever looking at new spectrum and know that those airwaves used to rollout 4G will not meet long term network capacity demands. As a result we are likely to hear more discussion of 5G as the decade progresses. Indeed, Ofcom has already set the date for the UK’s 5G spectrum auction to avert a capacity crunch.
Ofcom will clear the 5G airwaves by 2018 and launch the auction “within the next couple of years,” according to Ed Richards, its Chief Executive.
Graphene boost: Last month the UK Government outlined plans to boost development of the "super-material" graphene. £21.5m - £12m from funding originally announced in 2011 and a further £10m from the science research council EPSRC - will be allocated to specific universities. Those universities and various industrial partners are set to commit a further £14m to the development effort. Commenting the Chancellor, Mr Osborne, said the investment fund would aim to take the technology "from the British laboratory to the British factory floor".
The University of Cambridge has been awarded more than £12m for research into graphene flexible electronics and opto-electronics, which could include things like touch-screens and other display devices, while Imperial College London will receive over £4.5m to investigate aerospace applications.
Smartphones: The Ubuntu operating system has been adapted to run on smartphones, which means that the Linux-based software will now be able to be used to allow users to run desktop apps on their handsets, allowing them to double for PCs when docked to monitors. The code will initially be released as a file which can be installed on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone, replacing Android.
While a number of analysts have questioned whether consumers really want the power of a computer on their phone the company is said to be in talks with a number of manufacturers for devices on which the system will be pre-installed. Phones running the software are set to be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
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