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Challenges and opportunities 2011: Going global

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronics design? globalization? worldwide market?

As we move into another decade of evolutionary change in the electronics industry, there are already signs that an extremely fundamental and profound shift is underway. It's a change that is both exciting and potentially unsettling for those in the industry, depending on your perspective, and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Mansfield: Access to powerful, affordable design and data management systems is the key to capitalizing on this brave new world.

In a nutshell, the electronics design industry is now operating a truly global level, and the challenges and opportunities this presents are growing by the day. One immediately apparent indicator of this is how the concept of globalization has expanded to encompass all aspects of developing and marketing electronic products.

Today, an electronic device can be designed in one country, manufactured in another, then marketed and sold anywhere in the world. The ubiquitous availability of technology, computing and internet connectivity means the market for those products now extends around the planet. Regional production and marketing is rapidly giving way to the reality of products that are created globally, for a worldwide market.

Long tail

This might simply invoke a shift in production strategies for large electronics corporations, but it represents enormous opportunities for smaller companies to satisfy global niche markets. The potential defines the emerging "long tail" of the market, where selling a modest number of specialized products on a global scale has become a viable business model.

The "long tail" of the market refers to segments characterized by many niche players who focus on multiple, small-volume sales across the globe.

Unlike the high volume part of the market that's dominated by a small number of large players, the long tail is made up of an increasing number of small companies that are developing and selling specialized products to geographically dispersed customers. The significant shift is that these smaller electronics companies are not competing against the might of large resource-rich corporations, but operate in narrow, vertically defined markets on a worldwide scale.

While a global market has opened opportunities for a myriad of innovative companies that operate in narrow markets, the challenge for these smaller business setups is maintaining the costs, quality and integrity of their designs. Traditionally, achieving high quality product design solutions has been the domain of large organizations, which have access to premium design technology, large-scale mass production capability and very deep pockets to support the capital investment required to compete in mainstream markets.

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