Semicon half year over, what next now?

June 20, 2008

Wow! A majority of my predictions made on this blog for the global semiconductor industry have so far turned out correct — in December 2007 and again in May 2008.

Recently, I’d done a check on where are we today, in May, and earlier, via a Webcast from Semiconductor International, I had mentioned about the semiconductors market situation. Around that time, I had attempted my hand at predicting the top 10 global semiconductor trends for 2008.

There have been several folks, who’ve contacted me via this blog. Each one of them has his and her opinion about the semiconductor industry, and now want me to take this up a little bit more ahead. Let’s see what more I can do!

While all of these makes me feel proud of having been spot on with my assessment of the global (and Indian) semiconductor industry, it should also serve as a warning for the global (and Indian) semiconductor industry — that it really needs to pull up its socks! It is not going to be an easy ride ahead!

For starters, you simply cannot wish away the rising oil prices. The oil prices impact will be immense, and DRAM and flash are still wobbling. Besides, the ASPs are a wobbly lot and will continue to remain so. Interestingly, several forecasts from various quarters have been revised or re-assessed. Didn’t you all see it coming?

I’d also like to touch upon the Indian semiconductor industry. In all likelihood, the wafer fab story has all but disappeared. Very few comments are now being made about the wafer fabs, although, how this topic was played up, rather, hyped up about a year ago is quite well documented. In fact, I’d also written about whether the timing was right for having fabs in India!

No, it is not a failure on part of the Indian industry or the India Semiconductor Association. Perhaps, we started on the fab path a bit too late! Let’s all accept that!! Having said that, if a wafer fab or two do start functioning in India later in 2009 or beyond, that would be simply great!

Yes, several solar fabs are coming up and investments in solar/PV are rising, as also in India, but that was along expected lines.

I’d mentioned earlier that investments in photovoltaics (PV) had eased the pressure on capital equipment makers and spend somewhat. In fact, 2007 is now well remembered as the year when the PV industry emerged as a key opportunity for the subsystems suppliers and provided a timely boost in sales for those actively addressing this market. Perhaps, here lies an opportunity for India! I’m repeating this to the extent of sounding boring.

Further, even though it has been quite a while since the Indian semicon policy was announced, some feel that India should continue to focus on design services and embedded — its well known strengths, rather than go after something as mature as wafer fabs. Also, why do we have to ‘force ourselves to think’ that we are good at product development? We are not! Yes, it can change, but that would need great effort on part of all industry stakeholders.

So, what next? For now, I will not try and predict again what’s the way ahead for the semiconductor industry, as I’ve recently done a self check on where the global semiconductor industry stands today. That assessment will be left for another day!

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