While on the surface there is some variation in forecasts for the second half of 2010 (2H10), if you dig into the numbers and patterns of what's been coming in from the second quarter reports, there are some important trends that remove any cloudiness: consumer electronics, medical, and next generation ICs and memory are all up.
While these segments might seem to encompass most of the industry, there's an important common denominator that shouldn't be overlooked simply because it's staring right at us: mobile platforms. Sure, sure, iSuppli called it back in early April, when the continued strength of mobile devices, in spite of wobbly consumer confidence, had us all happy, albeit perplexed – as many still are since those conditions persist (witness consumer confidence dips all while iPad and smartphone demand surges globally).
But this insight to the wider market segment and dominant driver of mobile platforms (for computing, communication, internet, location based information, remote medical device monitoring, smart meters/smart grid, etc.) cannot be taken for granted. The fact is, the components supporting mobile platforms, from ICs and memory to the hardware and equipment to produce the mobile devices, have all been strong semi leaders for a quarter plus now. Furthermore, according to the most recent iSuppli release, this market dominance isn't going anywhere soon as 4G deployment brings continued promise for 2011.
A few numbers:
- "The average amount of DRAM used in smart phones is set to rise by more than a factor of 10 during the coming years, growing to 1.3Gbytes by 2014." iSuppli 4/1/10
- "Capital spending on wireless infrastructure throughout the world is projected to reach $40.3 billion in 2011." iSuppli 7/28/10
- "The driving force behind the projected IC market increase this year is strong growth in the PC and smartphone segments, which the firm expects to increase in volume shipments by 18 percent and 21 percent, respectively, compared to 2009." EETimes 7/27/10
- "The contract manufacturing space will see the strongest growth in the medical, computer, communications and consumer market segments." Manufacturing Market Insider 7/28/10 (p.4) (cf. the latest MarketWatch Quarterly report on Medical Electronics for more detailed discussions).
Add to this wide-scope market view the increase in end-market devices from medical, mainstreaming of Bluetooth enabled autos, unrelenting smartphone demand, and the ongoing debate over (3G WiFi enabled) tablets as the new disruptive technology to dominate personal computing (esp. for corporate - will they switch?!), and suddenly there is a very big elephant in the room; a mobile elephant that is growing and driving many aspects of the semi industry forward to exciting new features supported by new technologies and architectures.