AC #600 Integrated Circuit Engineering Collection Series 16

October 2, 1976   Description:

    A series of 1976 reviews of  Don Hoefler's Microelectronics News

    ICE Collection - Project File 10085 - review of :

MICROELECTRONICS NEWSLETTER
October 2, 1976

HOWARD BOBB
There is no question about Bob Norman's enthusiasm for the microprocessor. It is a powerful new tool for the electronics systems engineer. It is comparatively easy to program microprocessors, (a number of home hobbyists have become quite efficient at it.) The weakness in Howard Bobb's plan is that consumer products must have a strong marketing organization. Contract manufacturing has typically been a low return investment operation. Those companies that serve Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck and others in contract manufacturing have had considerable difficulty in getting an adequate return on investment. Although, as Howard Bobb has quoted, it is difficult to become proficient in consumer products marketing. It still seems that's where the money is.

AMI - THE ORGANIZATION
Glenn Penisten's move to cut overhead at AMI is pretty much as expected. He may not be able to actually achieve the "lean and mean" operation of National, considering the friendly personnel that tend to work at AMI. However, Penisten will not miss the larger profit margin available from AMI's bank of non- competitive sole-source programs.

VIDEO GAMES
It's fairly obvious that the video games addict can buy a TV set and modify it and sell it as part of his package, so I don't think it's particularly a hardship of distribution to go hard-wired.

ASSEMBLY-KOREA
The political uncertainties in Korea under the present dictatorship make it fairly difficult to know whether it's possible to establish a long-term effective assembly house. Most companies have decided not to expand in Korea or much less establish new operations there.

DISPLAYS
We should see some major breakthroughs in display technology, perhaps even combining the best of liquid crystals and LED's by providing a single display which can be eliminated by passing the current through it or, alternately, can in effect act as an LCD display.

TIMEX
There seems to be a little doubt that Timex will eventually get serious in the digital watch business, probably by acquisition. There will be just too many good opportunities of watch companies going bust for Timex to pass them all by. National seems fairly serious in entering the add-on memory business for IBM computers. Although the semiconductor content is very high, approaching some 45% of the factory cost, this is still a pretty dangerous game for the component house to play. The subtleties of error correction, diagnostics, and customer service are pretty difficult. The problems at National appear to be the type that typically occur in expanding situations where the people haven't been fully trained and/or appreciate their responsibilities. National's difficulty with some of its military customers regarding qualified parts, their difficulty with respect to production and high yield of electronic watches, and their field failure problems related to too much phosphorus in the oxide all coupled together spell something of a lack of confidence applied directly to the production situation. Unfortunately, in a company such as National is where money is made or lost.

ICE'S COMMENTS ON GENERAL BUSINESS CONDITIONS
We are finding a shortage of skilled personnel in design and layout. Pricing has firmed to a substantial degree, particularly for TTL and other commodity products. Although there is some slacking of orders as reported in August and entering into September, most organizations are beginning to report improvements in both bookings and backlog. Longer term, the industry ranges from bullish; i.e., 36% growth in 1977 over 1976, to maybe a slight recession as the other extreme.

© 1976 Copyright Integrated Circuit Engineering Corporation


Hoefler's Microelectronics News, October 2, 1976


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