Flex Industry in 2018

Flex Information Service:-

In July, BPA shipped their major 5 year forecast for the prospects for the global flex industry. This comprehensive forecast is for those manufacturing and supplying into the flex circuit industry. BPA’s research for the project, (as we carry out a top down and a bottom up methodology) concluded that portable products such as mobile phone handsets and tablets are one of, if not the, fastest growing sectors and now represents around $12bn of the $55 billion or so of the total global PCB and Laminate industry.

Forecasting out, we predict strong demand out to 2018 (the end of the forecasting period). Much of this demand is driven by Mobile phone handsets, over 40% in fact (see figure 1) and is, and will remain, by far the largest sector.

Figure 1: Global Market for Flex and Flex Rigid Circuit by end use 2014 (Value)

Figure 1: Global Market for Flex and Flex Rigid Circuit by end use 2014 (Value) The biggest current and ongoing change to this sector is the rise of the low and medium end Smart phone sector mainly from Chinese ODMS the bulk of which are not as feature rich as high end products like the iPhone 6 – a good example a new business model in this sector is Xiaomi.

Founded in 2010, Xiaomi is one of the largest Chinese smartphone companies. It’s revenues in 2013 were more than $5 billion. Xiaomi produces it’s products in small batches, allowing for easy changes based on user feedback. Every Friday there is a major feature update of the operating system and a round of feedback from expert consumers. Currently Xiaomi only sells directly to consumers (unlike the main incumbents, who go through a number of intermediaries – mainly network operators). The company can collect all this feedback and build it into the next series of devices not waiting on the traditional annual redesign cycle.

Xiaomi’s latest flagship handset, the Mi3, has the features you would expect from a high-end phone. It has an Nvidia quad-core 1.8GHz processor, a 5-inch 1,920 by 1,080 pixel screen, and a 13-megapixel rear camera, all fitted together in a metal casing. The phone retails at prices typically half that of high end models from the Apples, Samsung and HTC’s of this world.

The recent past has seen the outsourcing model – anything from design through semiconductors to assembly of PCBs and their components. What has largely remained intact is the hardware itself has been driven by ODMS technology roadmaps to which the supply industry has responded. This has often meant continuing investment in new manufacturing technologies and processes.

Speaking of which, the analysis uses both a top down approach (ie analysis of the content of technologies in end products) and also a bottom approach. Uniquely this enables us not only to forecast market demand by region or country but also by end use. The sectors covered in the report include:

  • Military & Aerospace
  • Medical Devices
  • Industrial & Instrumentation
  • Computer
  • Data Storage
  • Displays
  • Communications Equipment
  • Consumer Products
  • Mobile Phone Handsets
  • Automotive Applications

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