There's good news and bad news for system designers in North America and Europe. Despite the overwhelming trend toward offshoring electronic-equipment production, many of their jobs are expected to remain in their home regions. But many component suppliers are expanding their sales operations in Asia at the expense of the other regions, leaving designers in North America and Europe without much of the local sales support they need.
The Americas and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regions together accounted for 53% of worldwide electronic equipment production in 1998, according to iSuppli Corp. This percentage will fall to a meager 35% in 2008. Meanwhile, Asia/Pacific's share of worldwide equipment manufacturing will rise from 27% in 1998 to 49% in 2008, courtesy of China's rapid growth.
In light of this shift, many component suppliers' regional sales organizations in North America and Europe have been downsized as companies seek to reduce their cost of sales, observed Joe D'Elia, director of Market Intelligence Services for iSuppli Europe. However, although manufacturing is being sent to Asia, product design still is being performed in the traditional regions.
This leaves many designers in North America and Asia without the local, pre-sales support offered by some component suppliers, such as the design centers, field application engineers (FAEs), and additional personnel necessary to support today's complex designs. For many designers, obtaining such support from a centralized location via the Internet won't be an adequate replacement.
For key components, designers in North America and Europe must identify and select suppliers that choose to maintain the required level of front-end sales support in those regions, regardless of where actual manufacturing takes place, iSuppli believes.