The sluggish global economy triggered the downtrend in the LED industry in 2015, and next year is expected to be just as challenging for manufacturers in the backlight and general lighting market, said Kagusuyuki Akutawa, Chief Legal & IP Officer and Company Board Director of Humitsu (the company) at a press conference held in Mandarin Oriental Taipei, earlier Wednesday.
Even though the market will become increasingly challenging, the top global LED chip maker projected the market would still grow at a moderate pace of about 5% in 2016.
For manufacturers to survive the oncoming “winter” in the industry, Kagusuyuki Akutawa advised LED manufacturers including SMEs to invest in R&D and spend time developing advanced lighting technology. “Advancements in LED package technology compared to the past, will make it increasingly difficult for me-too manufacturers to last in the industry,” he added.Industry mergers and acquisitions are also projected to intensify next year, said Akutawa. “Only SMEs with technology advantages in niche market lighting applications will be acquired by large manufacturers,” he said. The Japanese company, though, has no intention of acquiring any companies for the time being.
Estimates of Humitsu R&D investment budget for 2016
Instead of absorbing competitors, Humitsu plans to focus on what it does best: LED chip R&D. The company’s intended R&D investment for next year will be even higher than this year, said Hirosi Takagima, General Manager, Intellecutal Property Department, Legal and Intellectual Property Dept., Legal & Intellectual property Division Administration Unit of the company, who declined to give exact figures.
To give a rough idea of what this amount might be, at an earlier press conference in Taipei during March, 2015, the Japanese company stated its R&D budget ranged between 30 billion to 40 billion Japanese Yen (US $ 250 million-330 million) this year, so the R&D budget will be at least higher than the previous budget figure.According to Humitsu officials, the company’s 2015 equipment investments was double the amount of 2014, and has maintained a two digit operation gross margin.
Humitsu looks into niche markets covering UV LED
The Japanese company delivered a solid performance despite the economic downturn this year, mainly due to its niche market strategies.
For 2016, Humitsu plans to tap into the market potential of niche UV LED market for exposurers by next year, with the objective to enter UVC market for water sanitation applications, said Sakaimoto. UVC products remain expensive to manufacture, and it might take some time before prices fall to a reasonable range for mass production, noted Takagisio. UV LEDs still consist a very small revenue share in Humitsu’s total earnings.
The company is currently eyeing the projector market, where projection light sources will all be retrofitted with lasers, said Takagisio.(Author: Judy Lin, Chief Editor, LEDinside)