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Industry screw-ups of 2011

Posted: 27 Dec 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronics supply chain? electronics market? consumer electronics?

For most of electronics, 2011 came in like a lion and is going out like a lamb. Carryover from a strong bounce back year in 2010 set markets booming in the early part of the year, but dragging effectschiefly macroeconomic concernshave slowed business considerably as the year draws to a close.

But 2011 will be remembered for a number of things apart from the second half slowdown. Natural disasters, including the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan and the monsoon flooding in Thailand beginning over the summer, wreaked havoc on the electronics supply chain. Mobile products, including media tablets and smartphones, continued their ascent to the top of the consumer electronics heap.

But like any year, 2011 will also be remembered for its share of missteps in the electronics world. EE Times has compiled a list of 10 blunders from 2011 that we believe will be remembered for years to come.

10. CSR pays $484 million for Zoran, dumps its crown jewel
At this point, CSR plc's acquisition of Zoran Corp. for $484 million earlier this year prompts only one sensible response: What were they thinking?

It didn't take even a year for CSR to figure out it needs to dump Zoran's digital TV and silicon tuner product lines, and lay off about 800 employees.

Why the connectivity technology specialist CSR wanted Zoran in the first place was a mystery to many in the industry in 2011.

Earlier this year, CSR said that it was looking to bring an "audio-visual context" to content that resides increasingly in the cloud. One of the CSR executives had also said that it wanted to add "Zoran's strong heritage in imaging" to its own core competencies.

Such a message ("adding audio-visual context in the cloud") was an idea a little too conceptual for anyone's taste; some investors simply dismissed it as "a difficult story to sell."

In the minds of those in the industry and investment community, the bigger questions for CSR were: If you're really after image processing technology [used in digital cameras, etc.], weren't there better options than Zoran? And did you really need to buy ALL of Zoran?

And another thing.

Zoran's real worth might not have resided in the run-of-the mill digital imaging technologies used in cameras, but rather, in things like novel frame rate conversion IP.

Before getting acquired by CSR, Zoran had already gone off the deep endin the home entertainment world. The company was hip deep in the consumer market, supplying chips for digital HDTVs, DVDs and Bluray recorders, segments where most global chip companies, not just Zoran, have struggled to make money.

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