The market prognosis has never been worse and LEDs have never been better. News from Soraa, Cree, Osram, and others.
Last week was the 13th annual Strategies in Light show, held at the Santa Clara convention center in Silicon Valley with a projected record of 176 presenters/sponsors and 5,000 attendees.
The show's growth from 12 open tables and 300 attendees in 2000 has mirrored the growth of the industry it represents. Four years ago, 35 booths were struggling to fill one-third of one hall. This year, the show filled the entire center -- and the entire parking lot. However, perhaps mirroring a larger reality, the growth in attendance seems to be slowing relative to the growth in exhibitors.
What were the takeaways from the show?
Simply put, it is the worst of times and the best of times for solid-state lighting (SSL): the market prognosis has never been worse and LEDs have never been better.
Eminence grise Roland Haitz, originator of Haitz's law (the Moore's law of LED), told Greentech Media, "It's going to be bloody awful the next year or two, with all the overcapacity they're building. Reminds me of DRAM."
Speakers in the new and heavily attended manufacturing track series presented on how to manufacture in a tight environment. Many referred to the Department of Energy goal of a 20X reduction in LED production cost (yes, 20X -- that's not a typo).
Outside the convention walls, analysts have been trashing industry standout Cree and predicting flat to declining sales of MOCVD reactors into LED manufacturing. Yet in every aisle, booth exhibitors were cheerful, at least outwardly confident that they could out-innovate or out-cost-reduce the macro scenario -- or simply believing in the proposition of SSL.
Soraa came out of stealth with a bang several days before the show, revealing a gallium nitride substrate-based LED (GaN-on-GaN), with major cost reduction claims. CEO Eric Kim was a keynote speaker.
Consider the example of American Bright, a smaller company that has done imaginative work in panel-level direct die attach, multi-LED selective phosphor overcoating and active IC control of direct AC operated LEDs (compared, for example, to the passive resistor AC control used by players such as Acriche). In previous years, the company seemed to be exhibiting to raise funds as much as to attend to other priorities. This year, President George Lee told Greentech Media, "That phase is past. Now we're focusing on users of our latest Golden Eye product."
Some other themes:
Despite the mixed emotions at the event, LED technology continues to improve, pricing continues to drop, and the inevitability of LEDs vanquishing incandescents and halogens in general illumination remains.