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December 23, 2014

The largest exhibition for the Asian semiconductor industry was held in Tokyo Big Sight on December 3rd. The three day show was previously held in Makuhari Messe. The Japanese semiconductor industry remains stuck in a long recession. For this reason, I was expecting some new trends; unfortunately, I was disappointed.

With most major trade shows and events, there are crowds of people walking from the train and bus stations to the convention center, but there were no crowds. I wondered whether I had the wrong place or wrong date. I was expecting long lines of visitors registering for the show and I was surprised to see no lines. I did not have to wait to register.

My disappointment started immediately when I entered the exhibition hall. The size of the show shrunk considerably compared to previous years. Only five halls of the Eastern Pavilion were occupied with about six hundred companies. Even though the space was cut in half, there were still vacant spaces on the floor, and organizers widened the aisles to use up some space. Applied Material and Tokyo Electron, two giants in the industry had relatively large sized booths, but their booths had only tables and chairs no new product displays or other technologies to show off. Intel, IBM and Sharp reserved smaller sized booths. These companies were promoting IoT (Internet of Things). Unfortunately, I could not understand what their presentations were about.

Companies affiliated with assembling & packaging reserved remarkable parts of the space in previous years; however, this year there weren't many companies representing this category. There were a couple of equipment suppliers and other companies from Korea and Japan. However, I did not see any packaging firms or material suppliers. I may have walked right by them because many exhibitors decreased the size of their booths in a cost saving exercise.

There were not many technical seminars this year and most of the ones were free to attend. The topics did not seem that interesting, and not many people attended them.

In the past, there were many visitors from Korea and Taiwan that gathered information about any leading edge technologies from Japanese and American companies. Now that Korea and Taiwan are the major semiconductor producers in the world, they are the ones that others try to gather information from.

This show was similar as CEATEC JAPAN 2014 that was held in early October. Japanese electronics companies continue to lose market share in the consumer electronics market. Nowadays, there is no volume production in Japan. Electronics giants such as Panasonic and Sony are now very conservative and a lot of their efforts are aimed at financial problems. They are no longer leaders in the global electronics industry, and their booths were a reflection of this.

My concern with the industry is a lack of passion from Japanese electronics companies. Most of the representatives from these companies seemed to be going through the motions with no energy at all. There wasn't even a rallying speech from any organizations that promoted the show. The semiconductor and consumer electronics market could disappear from Japan over the next few years if these manufacturers continue to approach each day without drive, determination and passion.

DKN Research

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