Recently, I wrote about the printed circuit industry in Taiwan. I reported on the industry’s declining revenues and voiced concerns about a potential domino effect for the rest of the electronics market. Unfortunately, this may become reality.
The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization released December shipments for global semiconductor products. During 2018, the industry recorded record growth month over month, and a 20% increase was predicted for the year. Monthly revenue exceeded $42 billion in the third quarter. Business ground to a halt during the fourth quarter; December revenues were negligible and dropped by $38 billion. Semiconductors are the backbone of the electronics industry, and the slowdown will have negative impacts on all affiliated industries that include electronic materials, components, and EMS manufacturing. Most of these affiliates suffered a slowdown during the fourth quarter.
Industry analysts point to the slowdown in sales for Apple’s iPhone X as one of the reasons for the downturn. Some believe this may be the beginning of a recession for the global electronics industry. The global semiconductor industry enjoyed moderate growth since the 2008 recession and posted double-digit growth during 2017 and for the first three quarters of 2018. Smartphones saturated the market during this time, but sales halted in the latter part of 2018.
Manufacturing capacities exceed demand at this time. Unfortunately, there are no new must-have electronic devices that will drive consumers to make purchases. The industry needs products that consume a large amount of electronics materials and components. Since there is nothing on the horizon, analysts are predicting a decrease in sales for the industry that will continue through the first and second quarter of 2019. Manufacturers will reduce their own inventory as well as a redeployment of labor.
Stock markets throughout the world have been extremely volatile during the last few months. Almost any news can affect the markets including trade wars, government shutdowns, oil prices, Brexit news, the weather, etc.. I wonder why stock exchanges do not rise or fall on semiconductor news. It’s real news with real data that can cause ripples on the economy. It seems like investors like trading on what-if rumors instead of real market data.
1. RIKEN & AIST (R&D organization in Japan) 1/24
Succeeded to drive silicon quantum bits at 10 degrees Kelvin, which is one hundred times higher than the previous record and will be valuable for sensor devices.
2. Tohoku University (Japan) 1/28
Developed a new electric power generation and storage technology using nanometer ion stream for IoT sensor devices.
3. TIT & Tokyo University (Japan) 1/28
Co-developed a new vibration electric power generator attaching the electret layer outside of the MEMS device, which makes the design freedom much larger.
4. Ricoh (Electronics company in Japan) 1/29
Rolled out new power source IC “RP514/RP515 Series” with a small package of WLCSP-9-2P for IoT devices. It consumes extremely small power with battery monitor.
5. Ricoh (Electronics company in Japan) 1/29
Developed a new manufacturing technology of the secondary batteries of wearable electronics and IoT devices using ink jet printing. It will make the design freedom of the batteries much higher.
6. Tokyo University (Japan) 1/30
Developed a low-cost thin-film flexible integrated circuit based on the organic semiconductor for RFID devices, which will be valuable for IoT.
7. DIC (Color ink supplier in Japan) 2/1
Developed a new flexible wireless sensor as the covering materials of the modern architectures, which will be a part of flexible electronics.
8. Hitachi (Electric and electronics company in Japan) 2/5
Developed an ultrasound dispatch chip for medical devices. It is mounted at the end of the catheter, indicating the location of the device instead of X-ray monitors.
9. Mitsubishi Electric (Electric and electronics company in Japan) 2/7
Developed world first sensor security technology that detects conflicts of data caused by attacks on sensors.
10. Tohoku University (Japan) 2/7
Developed a new graphene base carbon electrode for double-layer capacitor devices. It has higher performances than carbon nanotube base electrodes.
11. JAXA (Public R&D organization of aerospace technology in Japan) 2/7
Developed a world-class small but high-efficiency motor for the developments of aerospace, especially on the moon and Mars.
12. DNP (Printing company in Japan) 2/7
Will expand the business of WINCOS architectural film for windows of modern buildings. It cuts UV lights by more than 99%.
13. Kaneka (Organic material supplier in Japan) 2/8
Will invest 1.6 billion yen to expand the manufacturing capacity of Kane Ace—additive compounds for epoxy resins. The company expects remarkable demands in use of copper-clad laminates of multilayer circuit boards.
14. Yamaha (Equipment company in Japan) 2/13
Agreed to make SHINKAWA and APIC YAMADA—semiconductor assembling equipment suppliers—100% subsidiaries. Yamaha could make one-stop service equipment for assembling of semiconductors and circuit boards.
Dominique K. Numakura is the managing director of DKN Research LLC.