SEMICON Japan 2014


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The largest exhibition for the Asian semiconductor industry was held at Tokyo Big Sight December 3. The three-day show was previously held in Makuhari Messe. The Japanese semiconductor industry remains stuck in a recession. For this reason, I was expecting new trends; unfortunately, I was disappointed.

With most major trade shows and events, crowds of people can be seen walking from the train and bus stations to the convention center, but there were no crowds at this event. I wondered whether I had the wrong place or the wrong date. I was expecting long lines of visitors registering for the show and was surprised to see no lines. I did not have to wait to register.

My disappointment began immediately when I entered the exhibition hall. The size of the show had shrunk considerably compared to previous years. Only five halls of the Eastern Pavilion were occupied with approximately 600 companies. Even though the space was cut in half, vacant spaces could still be found on the show floor and organizers widened the aisles to fill in the space. Applied Material and Tokyo Electron--two giants of the industry--had relatively large booths, but featured no new product displays or other technologies. Intel, IBM, and Sharp reserved smaller booths as well. These companies were promoting Internet of Things (IoT). Unfortunately, I did not understand their presentations.

Companies affiliated with assembly and packaging reserved remarkable parts of the space in previous years; however, this year, there weren’t many companies representing this category. A couple of equipment suppliers and other companies from Korea and Japan were present, but I did not see any packaging firms or material suppliers. I may have walked right by them though, as many exhibitors decreased the size of their booths as an exercise in cost-savings.

Technical seminars were sparse this year and most were free to attend. The topics did not seem to be all that interesting and they were not well attended.

In the past, many visitors from Korea and Taiwan gathered information about leading-edge technologies from Japanese and American companies. Now that Korea and Taiwan are the major semiconductor producers in the world they are the ones from which others try to gather information.

This show was similart to CEATEC Japan 2014 held in early October. Japanese electronics companies continue to lose market share in the consumer electronics market; nowadays, there's no volume production in Japan. Electronics giants such as Panasonic and Sony are now very conservative and most of their efforts are aimed at financial issues. They are no longer leaders in the global electronics industry and their booths were a reflection of this.

My concern with the industry is a lack of passion from Japanese electronics companies. Most of the representatives from these companies seemed to be going through the motions with no energy at all. There wasn’t even a rallying speech from any of the show's promoting organizations. The semiconductor and consumer electronics market could disappear from Japan over the next few years if these manufacturers continue to approach each day without drive, determination, and passion. 

Dominique K. Numakura, dnumakura@dknresearch.com
DKN Research, www.dknresearchllc.com

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