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Electronix Express Newsletter
January 2007 Issue
Welcome to the January 2007 Issue of the Electronix Express Newsletter
1. Electronic Toys and Edutainment - No Longer Child's Play
Toys are no longer just child's play, they are big business. The U.S. toy market will grow to $22 billion in 2006 according to a survey by New York-based research firm NPD Group. With this growth comes new opportunity for the electronics industry as toys become increasingly dependent on technology to provide key functionality and features.
There are a large number of applications for electronics in the toy market.
The edutainment market is one segment that is growing quickly and offers interesting challenges for toy designers, electronic systems engineers and software developers. Edutainment products are toys that are both entertaining as well as educational. These take on many forms, from books with built-in electronics that teach children to read to sophisticated video-game-like products that provide an immersive environment for learning.
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2. Computer Chip Market to Surpass 2000 Peak
Despite stronger growth rates in communications systems, computer equipment will still account for half of the ICs sold in 2005, or about $96.5 billion, according to market research firm IC Insights. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based market researcher forecasts the computer IC market to grow 7.3 percent by the time all is said and done in 2005, from $89.9 billion in 2004. That would mean the segment would surpass the all-time record for revenues of $90.4 billion set in 2000, IC Insights said.
Computer systems, including PCs, workstations, servers, mainframes, and related peripheral equipment, have accounted for about half of the industry's IC revenues each year since the early 1990s. While other end-use segments may sometimes display better growth rates than computer ICs, the health of the total IC market is highly dependent upon strong computer industry demand.
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3. Connected Navigation Driving Forward
Soon motorists can expect to see a wide variety of data flowing into their cars in what is being termed connected navigation. The growth of in-vehicle technology will open up a multitude of opportunities for service providers and data aggregators to exploit travelers' desires for contextual information about local services and points of interest. According to ABI principal research analyst Dan Benjamin, navigation vendors will have to find other and better data to incorporate into their navigation schemes and that almost certainly will involve a connection to the Internet.
Technologies like Bluetooth, cellular modems, and Wi-Fi are already making their way into vehicles as tech companies continue to expand into the auto market. Next-generation devices, set to appear in the next few months, will offer traffic flow data, weather information, or instant messaging. Within two years, we may see navigation systems providing contextual answers to highly specific queries about local products and services.
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4. More Electronics Companies Sourcing From Mexico
The electronics industry has increasingly been looking at Mexico as a location for low-cost high-tech manufacturing. Ariba, a supplier of spending-management solutions, has determined that sourcing from Mexico also makes sense for many electronics companies.
"We are seeing an increase in sourcing from Mexico, as opposed to China and India," says Patrick Furey, senior category manager for Ariba
Recently Ariba polled 80 companies across multiple industries. More than half (54 percent) of the companies polled do not plan to change their sourcing penetration in Mexico. In addition, 31 percent of those companies plan to double their spending in Mexico in the next three years and 8.5 percent of the companies plan to more than double their spending in Mexico. Why this interest in sourcing from Mexico? First, even though components and materials made in China may be less expensive than in the Americas, shipping and logistics add cost. Second, time zone differences also cause problems. If a customer has to reach a supplier in China, it often means a call in the middle of the night. Third, there are fewer language barriers in the Americas. People are more accustomed to Spanish and English than they are to English and Chinese. Finally, there is always the concern about intellectual property. The laws protecting IP in Mexico are similar to the laws we have in the rest of the Americas.
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5. Worldwide Digital TV Sets: Flat Is In
TV sets in general and digital TV sets in particular are going flat. In many countries, even some of those with digital terrestrial broadcasting, flat panel TVs are the only digital TVs available. Even so, many are not shipping with integrated DTV tuners. Only in Japan and the US, where tuner inclusion is mandated, are millions of TV sets shipping with integrated DTV tuners.
Price declines in LCD and plasma TVs will ensure their popularity around the globe over the next several years as they become more affordable for consumers. Microdisplays will replace CRTs in rear projection TVs, as manufacturers want to offer higher resolution 1080p RPTVs. DTV IC vendors are making moves to ensure they have all the necessary technologies as DTV functions are integrated onto fewer ICs. Consumer interest in keeping up with the latest in technology ensures a bright forecast for the DTV market. Truly, flat is in!
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6. Ultrawideband: The Calm Before the Norm
Ultrawideband technology (UWB) is the most recent accomplishment of greater trends in wireless technologies. The Personal Area Network (PAN) has been waiting for a wireless solution to complement the established wired applications. UWB merges low-power and high data transfer rates. The basis of UWB is large center frequencies. UWB exploits an aspect of communication theory, which states that widening the frequency band has a demonstrably greater effect on data rates than increasing transmission power.
UWB products are about ready to enter the world stage, but there are important brushstrokes remaining. Worldwide regulatory bodies are defining what frequency ranges are acceptable for UWB transmissions and what power emissions are acceptable. Different consortia within the UWB community have been trying to garner standards. Some key issues and concerns of the UWB community are how countries plan to regulate approaches to UWB, what the endorsement of various engineering standards means to the WiMedia Alliance, and detailed scenarios about what challenges UWB faces in PC and PC peripherals, consumer electronics devices, handheld devices, and mobile phones to name a few.
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