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Hope is NOT a good reason to exhibit

Nothing really new was seen at 26th Flat Panel Display Expo (FINETECH JAPAN) early this month. Primary exhibitors were chemical, material, and manufacturing equipment firms. Most presentations were improvements in existing products. For example in the case of thin films: less thickness, higher heat resistance, longer flexing endurance, smaller loss with high-frequency, or higher dimensional stability—rather than something truly new. Kenshi (Dominique) Numakura, DKN Research covered the show. He stated that these companies were not expecting a huge amount of business; their goal was to engage some potential customers for a future business relationship. A marketing representative from a large company told him that "he had hopes" of attracting one customer with future product application needs. Numakura said, “Everyone in Japan is trying to scratch out a living. No one has thrown in the towel yet, and they all need one lucky break.”

Chinese direct investment in the U.S. rose to a record last year. China's investors placed $15+ billion into 171 transactions in the U.S.  According to Rhodium’s China Investment Monitor, they helped add 13,000 full-time jobs for Americans last year.

Never Ending

When I started in this industry nearly 60 years ago there were just two major shows: NEPCON East at the Coliseum in New York, and NEPCON West at the Anaheim Convention Center. This grew to two major show seasons which added exhibits across the Atlantic River (in the UK) and the Pacific Pond (in Japan*) in the spring and fall. Now it appears to be one long never-ending season that all too often shows little that is truly new, presents a major step forward, or a potentially disruptive technology. Visitors roam through these (often regional) events hoping to find that magic bullet that will propel them forward into better yields, lower costs, or a new opportunity. The next such major event is NEPCON China 2016 at the Shanghai World Expo & Convention Center April 26–28.

(*I presented a technical paper at the first INTERNEPCON JAPAN in the early  ‘70s when I was VP of business development  of OXY Metal Finishing, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. Can you guess what just came in by e-mail? An advertisement for INTERNEPCON Japan, January 18−20, 2017!

Market penetration by "dumping" used, refurbished products?

Apple will try to gain some traction in the world's second largest mobile phone market (India) by importing and selling refurbished iPhones. Apple, which has 2% of the market, is meeting resistance from its "local" competition and may once again be denied access via this route. Four out of five of smartphones there cost less than $150 with some branded phones priced as little as $35.

The Board of Directors of China telecommunications equipment maker ZTE will meet this month to replace three of its most senior executives as a result of the company being accused of violating of U.S. trade rules. The U.S. Department of Commerce slapped trade sanctions on ZTE last month, claiming that it violated rules by exporting American technological goods to Iran and other nations.

IDC announced that the fast-growing 3D printer market continues to be dominated by foreign brands although Chinese vendors are catching up and growing faster. The top five players in the China 3D printer market are all foreign brands: EOS, Stratasys, Renishaw, ZRapid, and Solidscape. Stratasys (Makerbot) and 3D systems also headed the list for desktop models, but the rest of the top five in this category belong to Chinese vendors Xery, Flashforge, and Beijing Tiertime. In terms of China's export market for desktop 3D printers, the top three brands Flashforge, Beijing Tiertime and Winbo account for 50% of the market.

Renewed faith in America's bare board business?

HCI Equity Partners acquired KCA Electronics and Marcel Electronics International Circuits. HCI also announced the appointment of IPC Director Shane Whiteside as President and CEO. Whiteside had worked with HCI before to form and grow TTM.

APCT Holdings Company, the ownership group of APCT Inc., has acquired the Wallingford Connecticut based printed circuit fabricator, Tech Circuits Inc.

 

Gene Weiner is president of Weiner International Associates. To contact Gene, click here.

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