Electronica: CEO panel basks in upbeat mood
11/9/2010 8:16 AM EST
A customer complains
It perhaps should not have been a surprise then when an audience member who identified herself as being from automotive supplier Bosch asked Infineon's Bauer why his company had longer lead times and was a less able supplier than the other companies represented on the panel
Bauer did not answer that directly, saying merely that Infineon had to increase production in waves. In the six months after February 2010 automotive demand into Infineon had increased 25 percent, he said, indicating that there would always be particular parts and customers that would be hit during the growth phase after such a deep dive in demand. Other CEOs were quick to help Bauer out saying that all companies have their successes and their horror stories.
Another questioner pointed out that much of the restructuring that had taken place in Europe chip companies had been away from the consumer and mobile sectors and towards the higher margin, lower volume and steadier demand represented by automotive, industrial and multimarket segments. He went on to ask if that moving away from the leading-edge in terms of volume and technology was a danger to Europe.
"I would not agree," said ST's Bozotti. In HDTV, in smartphones, in communications Europe is a leader. The challenge is not in the margin but in the R&D effort needed in design and in software. You need an evolution of the road-map and that requires massive R&D and to afford that you need scale. So only a few companies can take part."
Infineon's Bauer picked up the theme saying that there are so many market segments that it is inevitable that many that were broad chip suppliers must become specialized. "Take smartgrid, something Infineon is working on, it is a market that will be worth $100 billion over the next years." NXP's Clemmer cautioned the questioner not to think in regional terms. "It's a global industry now."