An Esteemed Competitor

With the global oscilloscope market at $1B, it surely has room for one more major player to grab a share of the business. At least that’s why Rohde & Schwarz has decided to enter this arena. For the first time in the company’s 75-year history, it is offering a series of scopes to the test and measurement industry. This announcement was made at the end of June in Munich and attended by members of the press from around the world. At the event, the company rolled out two series of scopes in the performance class of products, one with a bandwidth of 500 MHz and the other with two models having bandwidths of 1 and 2 GHz, respectively.

Michael Vohrer, who retired on July 1 as CEO of Rohde & Schwarz, explained that the company is investing in the future by introducing new product lines which will complete their complement of instruments that range from spectrum analyzers to arbitrary waveform generators. Quite predictably, current R&S customers were part of the reason the company entered the scope business. However, R&S is not totally unfamiliar with scopes since a few years ago it acquired Hameg, a manufacturer of instruments with bandwidths up to 350 MHz.

In a conversation with Roland Steffan, head of the Test and Measurement Division, he stated that the company plans to grow the scope business by taking marketshare away from the other scope manufacturers, realizing that the overall test and measurement industry is relatively stable. He predicted that R&S would garner a two-digit marketshare in three to five years and be the number-three player in the oscilloscope business behind Tektronix and Agilent Technologies.

Josef Wolf, head of the Oscilloscopes Subdivision, delved into the unique technical specifications of the products including the capability of the high-end models to acquire 1,000,000 waveforms/s, a rate up to 20 times more than many traditional scopes. To achieve this rate, a special 90-nm ASIC was developed that minimizes the blind time of the acquisition cycle. As for visualization and manipulation of what’s presented on the display, the touch screen should be well received by scope users.

In this age of companies partnering with other companies, I asked Mr. Steffen why R&S did not seek out other oscilloscope manufacturers to provide assistance in the design of the new series. After all, R&S was just entering the scope arena, and it could have been advantageous to tap into the resources of established scope manufacturers that have been designing such instruments for decades.

His response was quick and to the point. R&S has the technical talent in both hardware and software to design and develop an oscilloscope series that is unique and different from anything currently on the market. He went on to say that R&S is structured as a completely horizontal company; it provides most everything that goes into the product. Furthermore, he continued, R&S does not collaborate with other companies.

It will be interesting to see how well R&S is able to execute on achieving their marketshare goals. The company feels that about one-third of their current customers will purchase scopes from them. With that level of anticipated commitment, they may do very well with the new product line.

Paul Milo
Editorial Director
[email protected]

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