Semiconductor Strategy

I had one significant opportunity, at National Semiconductor, to step beyond the traditional in integrated circuit product definition.  In cooperation with Juri Matisoo, I created a 10-year semiconductor application forecast.  This was an exercise in examining the IC utilization environment, particularly as it it applied to National.  Because of a change in CEO, from Amelio to Halla, this exercise went no where.

However, this is a process that should be important to every integrated circuit company.  In all high-tech companies, the frequently missed opportunity deals with product definition.  If you do not have a de facto monopoly, your success is determined by product definition.  The key example is Apple; they have defined a succession of products that customers like, and they have become the most valuable technology company in the world.  On the other hand, one of my old employers, Bell Laboratories, wasn't concerned about product definition, and once out of a monopoly position, the fortunes of Bell and its various offspring, like Lucent, have dwindled.

For integrated circuits, product definition involves several key elements: While understanding your own customers is important, only by recognizing the expectations of their customers can you build enough lead time into your product planning.  That is where a ten-year forecast of the technological environment comes in; it is a forced examination of the expectations and needs for technology, seen through the eyes of the ultimate users.