India’s growing might in global semicon

May 12, 2008

It is no longer a secret that India is fast becoming the world’s destination, and increasingly the source too, for semiconductors. India also shows the most rapid growth potential among the BRIC countries.

Speaking at the recently held International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2008 at Dubai, organized by Future Horizons, S.Janakiraman, the outgoing Chairman – India Semiconductor Association, and President & CEO – R&D services, MindTree Ltd, touched upon India’s growing might as a being the third largest country in terms of purchasing power parity, as well as its growing presence in the global semiconductor industry.

It is no surprise that the current market drivers in India happen to be mobile phone services, IT services/BPO, automobiles and IT hardware. Add to these are the facts that India is very strong in design tools, system architecture and VLSI design, has quite strong IP protection laws, and is quite strong in concept/innovation as far as the semiconductor industry is concerned.

Testing and packaging are in the nascent stage. While India lacks a semicon wafer fab, as of now, there have been several announcements regarding solar fabs by leading firms such as Videocon, Moser Baer, Reliance, etc.

In the electronics manufacturing domain, India’s strength lies in hardware, embedded software and industrial design, OEMs, component distribution (includes semiconductor and box build), and end user/distribution channel, as well as more than moderate strength in product design and manufacturing (ODM, EMS).

India is likely to witness $363 billion of equipment consumption and $155 billion of domestic production by 2015. India’s electronic equipment consumption in 2005 was 1.8 percent. It is likely to grow to 5.5 percent in 2010 and 11 percent in 2015, as per a joint study conducted by the ISA and Frost & Sullivan.

The Indian semiconductor TAM (total available market) revenue is likely to grow by 2.5 times while the TM (total market) is likely to double revenues in 2009. The TAM is likely to grow at a CAGR of 35.8 percent and the TM is likely to grow at a CAGR of 26.7 percent, respectively, during the period 2006-09.

Telecom, and IT and office automation are currently the leading segments in both TM and TAM. Consumer segment occupies the third fastest growing area in the TM, while the industrial segment is the third fastest growing area in the TAM.

The major semiconductor categories include microprocessors, analog, memory, discrete and ASIC, while the major end use products include mobile handsets, BTS, desktops, notebooks, set-top boxes and CRT TVs.

Emerging base of EMS firms
India is also becoming an emerging base of EMS companies, thereby completing the electronics ecosystem. Five of the top 15 EMS companies globally have set up their manufacturing facilities in India. These include Celestica, Elcoteq, Flextronics, Jabil Circuit and Solectron. Two other large companies are in the process of setting up plants — Hon Hai Precision Industry and Sanmina-SCI.

Nokia has set up its manufacturing facility as well. It has invested $210 million in the plant since January 2006. The India plant has set another benchmark of achieving the fastest ramp up across all Nokia facilities worldwide. Currently, approximately 50 percent of the production from the plant is consumed domestically and the rest is exported to other countries.

Indian embedded design industry
The Indian embedded design industry has been going from strength to strength. The recent IDC-ISA report puts revenues from India’s VLSI, board design and embedded software industry to grow to $10.96bn by 2010 from the current $6.08bn in 2007.

As of 2007, embedded has 81.1 percent share, hardware board design 6.3 percent; and VLSI design 12.3 percent, respectively.Source: ISA.

The challenges and focus areas for the embedded design industry include manpower — focusing on increasing productivity, creating readily deployable engineering workforce, and focusing on developing high-end skills.

Another area India is working on is moving up the semiconductor value chain. India is now focusing on end-to-end product development, investing in IP development, developing India specific products, and partnering with OEMs to understand the market needs.

The challenge is posed by the cost structure. India needs to better address cost management, i.e., increasing infrastructure and salary costs, as well as managing the dollar’s impact.

India design inside
Several global products have been now developed out of India. Some recent examples are: Harita Infoserve Ltd is developing interior parts and conducting computer tests on components for General Motors Corp.

Next, Ittiam’s videophone design will become almost entirely an India story: part of the chip, the product design, the software and, finally, the manufacturing also done here. Plexion Technologies has worked on the interior design and windows for a DaimlerChrysler (DCX) bus.

Quasar Innovations designed and developed a dual SIM card — PTL910 mobile phone for Primus, to be launched in the European market. The mobile phone allows the user to have SIM cards from Primus for two countries, with the phone automatically choosing the correct SIM depending on the user’s location.

Finally, MindTree itself has designed a feature rich satellite handset with mobile handset form factor for a European company.

Attractive semicon policy
India’s semiconductor policy is likely to attract investments of over $10bn. The government of India will bear 20 percent of the capital expenditure during the first 10 years for units located inside SEZs and 25 percent for those outside.

For semiconductor manufacturing (wafer fabs) plants, the policy proposes a minimum investment of $625mn. The same for ancillary plants would be $250mn.

The government’s participation in the projects would be limited to 26 percent of the equity portion. The key benefit here is the grant of the SEZ status.

India’s evolving ecosystem is driven by the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) opportunity. Tata Motors announced the now famous Nano — the Rs. 1 lakh (sub $2500) car -– said to be the world’s cheapest car. This has been indigenously developed in India, for India, by Tata Motors.

Nano has passed all mandatory crash tests and Euro IV norms. It is likely to be commercially launched in the second half of 2008.

All of these make India the most happening semiconductor and electronics destination. Don’t be surprised if companies not having an India strategy in place miss out on the action!

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