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FROM SMART HOMES TO AUGMENTED REALITY: CONSUMER ELECTRONIC TECHNOLOGY AND MARKET TRENDS
The consumer electronics market is known for its constant innovation in providing devices that have become essential in our everyday lives. They are omnipresent, and come in all forms: Laptops, tablets, smartphones; smartwatches, wearables and hearables; smart home appliances and home assistants; televisions and gaming consoles; digital cameras, drones, virtual reality and augmented reality devices… At Yole Group, we analyze multiple consumer electronics systems according to inherent functionalities that match specific emerging applications – from mobile systems and wearables, to computing hardware, home automation and entertainment. This way, we can better anticipate and analyze the semiconductor content of these high-volume products and chart their evolution over time.
Consumer electronic applications have become the markets where most of the innovations linked to electronic and semiconductor devices are happening. The need for new functionalities and ever increasing performances, combined with high volume production and lower price requirements, quarter after quarter, are the hurdles that semiconductor suppliers (and their supply chain) need to overcome in order to stay in the market.
From image sensors to data processing, from power electronics to photonics, from More than Moore to Moore’s law, from packaging to front end manufacturing… all these devices and their related supply chain remain in constant evolution in order to attract our attention and push consumers to buy more electronic products. Being able to understand the combination of consumer demand and the OEMs’ strategic developments, combined with the technology and product development and target production costs, thus becomes essential.
Consumer electronic products represent hundreds of millions to a few billion units to be produced every year. That’s billions of mobile phones on a twelve-month renewal cycle, hundreds of millions of laptops and wearables, tens of millions of augmented and virtual reality systems. The sheer numbers of units to be produced every year in order to satisfy consumer needs explain the level of investment, both from a manufacturing capacity point of view, but also in terms of the development cycle speeds that need to be implemented.
Consumer electronics are also demanding in terms of innovation. As a matter of fact, a large number of the innovations related to semiconductor devices are now developed first for consumer electronics applications.
New packaging platforms like FanOut (for application processors), chip stacking (for image sensors), as well as new functionalities like face recognition and large diffusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), came to production because of decisions by OEM makers to implement such technologies and functionalities.
As an impactful consequence, more and more OEMs, who traditionally relied on their suppliers for access to new functionalities, are now designing and developing their own chips. Those players are organizing the production with a set of suppliers of their choosing, representing another revolution in the consumer electronics industry.
For over 20 years, we at Yole Group have been forecasting and analyzing this technical progress by following development at both the system level as well as the semiconductor level. Through market research, reverse engineering and reverse costing, we analyze technological evolution to deliver a deepened understanding of the potential paths and developments offered by semiconductor technologies, companies, and the supply chain.
Recently, with the smartphone era inching towards the top of the curve, the industry has started seeking “the next big thing” – that sweet spot at which technology meets technical requirements, applications and market opportunities. Every day, Yole Group actively tracks the consumer market through numerous interactions with all supply chain stakeholders, from R&D all the way through to the OEMs – from 5G market research all the way to the augmented reality supply chain.
The leading players in the industry are large and well-known companies such as Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Sony. They create a wide range of products – from personal audio equipment to home automation systems – that cater directly to consumers’ needs. With yearly shipments of many billions of units per year, they are driving semiconductor innovations in terms of new features and new technologies, but also through supply chain adaptation.
The consumer electronic industry drives the biggest volume of modules and components in Radio Frequency, MEMS, imaging and CiS, power modules and display, processors and memories, making it as a strategic segment for semiconductor manufacturers. With unpredictable consumer tastes on the demand side, delays and disruptions on the supply side, and production challenges in the middle, the high rate of technology evolution requires impressive investments. And with no guarantee of proportional returns, this means that operation across global markets is fundamental to achieving economies of scale.
Evaluating, understanding and anticipating the movements of the consumer electronic market are highly valuable for existing players of the semiconductor field – or whoever wants a piece of the pie.
Our teams are on hand to help you make sense of ever-evolving technology innovation. We also have the capability to give you a comprehensive vision of the changing supply chain and expected developments of production costs. We help you identify and analyze the links between new semiconductor devices, emerging technologies and performance development. We detail the way to integrate such devices in modules and systems, as well as new functionalities triggered at the OEM level to define your technical roadmap through the related supply chain. We help you increase value generation and get a better understanding of your competitive landscape. With our robust dedication to understanding the consumer electronics industry, we at Yole Group help you maximize your growth.