There appears to be two schools of thought among analysts in terms of what will drive the future semiconductor industry.
The first school of thought believes the IC industry will need a new and big "killer application" to propel the marketplace. Meanwhile, the second school adheres to the belief that existing applications like PCs, cellular phones, and other products are just enough to drive the future growth of the semiconductor industry.
I'm a strong proponent of the first camp. The industry requires innovation--and the "next big thing"--to propel growth. Cell phones, digital cameras, DVDs, game machines and PCs are nice drivers for the chip industry, but to me, these items are mature and just plain boring.
So what's the next "killer application" or "big thing" in the industry?
Jim Feldhan, president of Semico Research Corp., believes that fuel-cell technology is the next "killer application" (see October 10 story).
However, some believe there are no big "killer applications" waiting in the wings, but rather smaller and innovative "wounding applications" in the market, especially in the PC industry.
Among the newer "wounding applications" include instant messaging, digital imaging and video, and related applications for PCs, said Brian Fravel, director of desktop marketing at Intel Corp. "I don't see one killer application (in PCs) because the business is so diverse," he said.
Steve Kleynhans, vice president of technology research services at the Meta Group, a market research firm, sees another type of "wounding application" called "hyper-collaboration." The Meta Group analyst said that computing is expected to move towards new and radical software applications, which will enable workgroups to shift from an end-user to a "hype-collaborative" model. "It's a shift in how we share data," he said.
Still others believe that the cell phone is the real answer. Some project that TV and video on mobile devices will drive the industry. 3G enablers are the next killer applications, declared Kari-Pekka Wilska, president of Nokia's North American unit, Nokia Americas, during a speech at the annual SEMI dinner and awards ceremony earlier this month.
Wilska also indicated that the world was a completely different place before the advent of cell phones, lending itself to another type of killer application and behavior in airports, restaurants, and public places.
"The killer application in the past was killing time," he joked.
Actually, that's not a bad idea after a hectic 2003: killing time. In fact, I intend to spend a lot more time relaxing and "killing time" in 2004, rather than chasing after the next "killer application" story.
That's my New Year's resolution. Meanwhile, on behalf of Silicon Strategies, I would like to wish our readers a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year.