Generally speaking, I'm sort of "ho hum" about this type of announcement, so I called up my old chum, Bruce Fienberg, who is the Director of Corporate Communications at Lattice, to ask him: Why should the product managers and the engineers in the trenches be interested in this news?
Bruce replied as follows:
Future has a long FPGA experience and expertise augmented with a series of strategically-placed System Design Centers that can provide “A to Z” technical support for Lattice’s customer base; everything from helping with designs to actually helping manufacture prototypes
This is a worldwide agreement, which means that customers who might design in one location, but build in another, now have a choice of channel support partners; same systems equal uniformity of price, seamless logistics, technical support, and so forth.
Future’s global footprint is huge: 5K employees dispersed across 162 field offices in 42 countries worldwide, which means they have thousands of customer-facing sales, technical, and commercial support people to support Lattice’s customers.
Our agreement is that Future will focus on demand creation activity -- helping customers use Lattice to meet their board and system requirements -- rather than just adding another fulfillment channel. This is extremely important to Lattice as we focus more and more on mobile and other markets that are taking advantage of our programmable devices that consumer mere micro-watts of power and are available in packages with tiny footprints.
Well, what can I say? This all makes sense to me. Do you have any thoughts you'd care to share?
This seems like a solid pact that will raise the bar for competitors in the FPGA arena. On a day when the broader market is down, Lattice's stock rose to $5.26 from $5.18 in recent trading, meaning most traders thought it was nice but nothing that will change the course of history.
The owner of Future (world's largest privately held distributor), would not sign this agreement if he did not think he could make money off of it. So, even though Lattice is a distant 3rd or 4th player in the FPGA game, they must have a niche market or something else that Miller sees where they can make a play.
@Patl0317: ...they must have a niche market or something else...
Well, in addition to a very good mid-level offering (in terms of capacilty, cost, performance, and features), they have the ultra low-power stuff they acquired when they purchased SiliconBlue, plus they have a very sophisticaled power/platform management family/suite.
More distribution usually means more revenue, so, yes, both the distributor and the manufacturer should benefit from that. How much is the question. The buyer is probably going to order from one place or another, anyway, and if they wanted Lattice chips they can get them -- Lattice still gets the order, but perhaps at slightly different terms.
That's a good question, Patrick. It was a small move in the stock, and this announcement appears to be the only news that was out that day involving Lattice. The stock is up another 2 pennies today at $5.24, but still well below the 52-week high set of $5.71 in March.
@DocDivakar: ...it would be nice if you can dig up some story on what Tabula is up to these days...
I'm not allowed to say anything at the moment ... but I do hope to be able to report something that will blow your socks off in the not-so-distant future (so you had better make sure to wear elasticated socks for the forseeable future :-)
This may be a litmus test for future electronics. We eagerly await to see prowess of design solution and support efficay of future with this nice product line of Lattice. It has good chance of getting A grade. How much time will be required to see first result?
Yes actually it is a primary struggle of Lattice Semiconductor as it has to compete the old players Altera and Xilinx in the FPGA Markets, but the later both have not focused the industry segments, where as Lattice does has a particular focus in certain segments of the electronics application industries. So we can alternatively say that Future will be able to have more focused environment to play with. Yes but you are right that struggle will be there.
In some cases the trend toward distributor as tech support and demand creator is smart, especially for small- to mid-size companies. But many designers complain that some suppliers take it too far and completely abdicate their responsibility (and opportunity?) to provide support and incorporate feedback from users in the field.
Some field support engineers from suppliers may have some thoughts on this.