By any measure, 2002 was perhaps the toughest year in the history of the electronics market. The industry downturn fiercely challenged newcomers and established firms alike, as the financial community lost faith in high-tech. Even leading companies experienced business losses as they struggled to maintain the delicate balance between supporting today's product rollouts and funding R&D for tomorrow's technology advances.
To meet the challenge head on, manufacturers re-evaluated business practices, like fabless models, specialized value-added distribution, and outsourced contract manufacturing, in search of the most efficient solutions to product innovation. Many companies streamlined their organizations by re-examining how they compensated engineers to achieve a minimal headcount for optimum flexibility. Those companies fortunate enough to have cash on hand seized the chance to gobble up weakened competitors and struggling suppliers, speeding up the consolidation that has come to characterize the maturing electronics market.
Despite it all, an underlying strength remains throughout the industry. Last year is proof that innovation never takes a holiday in the electronics OEM business. Smaller and more efficient components, powerful new EDA tools, and creative test solutions rose up to meet the challenges posed by next-generation product designs.
While the dot-com bubble-burst certainly contributed to the industry's recent reversal of fortune, there are positive signs in the wake of all the turbulence. Nascent Internet applications continue to provide nearly unlimited opportunities for component suppliers as Web-enabled systems find their way into such end products as vending machines, industrial process controls, energy systems, handheld wireless devices, and global positioning systems.
The only things that change faster than technology developments are the information needs of engineers and engineering managers like you who are responsible for putting these new technologies to work. Throughout 2002, Electronic Design conducted focus groups and online surveys. We found out what kinds of additional information our readers want from their favorite design magazine to help them bring new products to market faster and more cost-efficiently. Starting with this issue, you'll begin seeing some of the results of our research. Stay tuned for more exciting changes over the coming months.
Undoubtedly, the long-term industry fundamentals remain positive as leading electronics manufacturers take the necessary steps to ensure healthy businesses, while preparing for the ensuing recovery. Future new product development may occur at a more measured pace than in the past, but the EOEM market still affords tremendous opportunities as the industry gets ready to design products for the next killer apps.
Electronic Design is well prepared to help you get in on the action.