On Oct. 16, Jessy Cavazos, test and measurement industry director for Frost & Sullivan gave an online presentation, Checking the Pulse of the Global Oscilloscope Market: Product Innovation Drives Market Shares (registration required). She explored market trends, drivers and restraints, and what oscilloscope manufacturers need to do to maintain growth.
Cavazos said that the overall oscilloscope market shrank 12 percent in 2012 to about $1.1 billion. Much of the decline came from Europe; an uncertain economy was the most significant factor. By 2019, the oscilloscope market should reach about $1.8 billion (see figure below). She also cited price competition among the three major manufacturers as a factor. In addition, scalable oscilloscopes, where you can buy more bandwidth when the need arises, may factor into slower market growth, even though they meet user demand for upgrades.
By watching the recorded webcast, you'll also see how a growing appetite for smart devices is the major factor in growth in the oscilloscope market, starting in the immediate future. Over the next few years, Cavazos expects the drive for higher bandwidth to become a significant factor. That will come from data buses such as Thunderbolt, PCI Express, USB, and DDR3. What's interesting is how Cavazos divides the current market by bandwidth.
- Low end: up to 1GHz
- Midrange: above 1GHz to 8GHz
- High end: above 8GHz
Currently, oscilloscope bandwidth tops out at 65GHz, but that could go to 100GHz before the end of 2013.
There is also a push for oscilloscopes with a resolution better than eight bits. Twelve-bit oscilloscopes have been on the market for years (remember Nicolet?) but are now gaining importance, and the oscilloscope makers are adding 12-bit models. Of course, there's always a tradeoff between higher-resolution ADCs and measurement bandwidth.
As part of her conclusion, Cavazos cited a need for an improved user experience in oscilloscopes. She said they will take on a more consumer-like interface. If you've ever used a tablet-based oscilloscope, then you know the pleasure of using your fingers to zoom in on a signal. Should mainstream oscilloscopes move to this kind of interface, or will you forever want to use knobs?