It's not easy being Analog. Analog vendors are dismissed as dinosaurs by analysts who don't really understand analog's inherent roles, and analog circuit designers are threatened with "digital displacement" by engineers who should know better. But in fact the analog space offers an amazing diversity of functions, applications, vendors and users.
This is clear from the just-released "AAA [Awareness, Attitude, Association] Analog Study." The survey, conducted by EE Times in conjunction with Beacon Technology Partners LLC, polled respondents on 13 analog vendors: Analog Devices, Avago Technologies, Fairchild Semiconductor, Freescale Semiconductor, Intersil, Linear Technology, Maxim Integrated Products, Microchip Technology, National Semiconductor, NXP, ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments.
Analog doesn't fit into any neat, easily characterized template in terms of vendors, users and priorities. It's a fragmented market at both the vendor level and the application cut. Analog players thus score few home runs but many singles and doubles, as well as the occasional triple (and, of course, some outs as well).
It's a world where the long-tail effect is a major factor, with lengthy viable (and profitable) product lifetimes. Further, there's an application split between the basic, core functions exemplified by the eternal, real-world I/O needs (sensors, transducers and loads) and those applications where the analog need is defined instead by internal "laws of physics" complexities (line drivers, shifters, equalizers and filters).
To complicate the analysis, the vendor profile has multiple personalities. There are vendors that offer broad product lines and ones that focus only on well-defined niches, such as low power or optoelectronics. Some serve a broad swath of users and have no single, dominant customer or application; others work with a much smaller roster of key accounts.
The nearly 800 usable responses to the AAA survey were drawn from the North American engineering readership of EE Times and TechOnline who specify, buy or recommend analog ICs for their companies' products, representing a confidence interval of ±3.3 percent. The respondents worked in automotive electronics (6 percent), computing and peripherals (7 percent), consumer electronics (14 percent), industrial electronics (27 percent), medical devices (9 percent), military and aerospace (22 percent) and wired/wireless communications (15 percent). Metrics assessed from the respondents included familiarity, brand attitude, future consideration, actual use, satisfaction, repurchase loyalty and referral potential. Respondents not only ranked factors of importance but also named and ranked the vendors that they associated with each attribute.