Demand for Wireless Fronthaul Brightens Up the 2019 Optics Market
LightCounting releases September 2019 Quarterly Market Update Report and Database.
Global sales of optical transceivers reached $1.3 billion in Q2 2019 – up 5% sequentially, but down 2% from Q2 2018. There is a good chance that this market will post modest growth this year, consistent with our forecast, published in April 2019. Demand for Ethernet transceivers picked up, after 3 quarters of declines and the outlook for the rest of the year is improving. The market for DCI optical transport solutions is growing based on the reports by Ciena and several other suppliers. This helped to sustain sales of CWDM/DWDM transceivers and lift shipments of WSS modules to a new record in H1 2019. A surge in deployments of 4G LTE and the first 5G wireless systems was reflected in financial reports of Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE. Increasing mobile infrastructure deployment is also evident in the shipment data for wireless fronthaul optics, collected by LightCounting from the leading transceiver suppliers, shown in the figure below. This segment is likely to reach $800 million in 2019 – well above our expectations.
A lot of the demand for wireless optics came from China, but South Korea and North America made sizable contributions to this market as well. This subject will be discussed in more detail at LightCounting webinar scheduled for 2pm EST on Wednesday, September 18th. LightCounting clients interested in attending should email Renee Isley (at email@example.com) or George S. (at firstname.lastname@example.org ). A recording of the webinar will be also available.
The webinar will also include more details on the recovery in sales of Ethernet transceivers, but full information will only be available in the Quarterly Market Update Report database. Sales of 100GbE PSM4, LR4 and ER4 Lite modules were up sharply in Q2 2019. Pricing of CWDM4 transceivers seems to be stabilizing, so we should see growth in sales of these products in H2 2019. Demand for 200GbE and above (including all variants of 2x200GbE, 4x100GbE and 400GbE) optics is picking up and sales of these products are on target to exceed $200 million by the end of 2019.
The Quarterly Market Update report provides an easy-to-digest snapshot of optical transceiver growth trends, backed up with detailed quarter-by-quarter sales data collected via LightCounting's proprietary vendor survey. Performance metrics and commentary for top-tier Telecom and Internet service providers, network and Datacom equipment makers, and Optical component, and Semiconductor vendors are also included, to provide an understanding of what drives sales trends at the transceiver level.
The report consists of approximately 100 PowerPoint slides with many charts and tables suitable for reuse in client presentations. An Excel spreadsheet is also included with the report, providing the latest 8 quarters of shipments, prices, and revenues for ~100 products spanning the Ethernet, Fibre Channel, WDM, Wireless, and FTTH segments. Quarterly revenue and spending data for 30 top CSPs and ICPs, and quarterly revenues for 22 equipment makers, 15 optical components vendors, and 17 semiconductor manufacturers is also included.
More information on the report is available at: https://www.lightcounting.com/marketupdate.cfm
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LightCounting -- The name alone is what sets us apart and defines us as a company. We are a leading optical communications market research company, offering semi-annual market updates, forecasts, and state-of-the-industry reports based on analysis of primary research with dozens of leading optics component, module, and system vendors, as well as service providers and cloud companies. LightCounting is the optical communications market's source for accurate, detailed and relevant information necessary for doing business in today's highly competitive environment. Register to receive our monthly newsletter: LightCounting.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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3D Sensing for Self-Driving Cars Reaches the Peak of Inflated Expectations
LightCounting releases a new report addressing illumination in smartphones and automotive lidarIn 2019, the market for VCSEL (vertical cavity surface-emitting laser) illumination in smartphones will exceed $1.0 billion – now nearly triple the size of the market for communications VCSELs. That’s quite remarkable for a market that didn’t exist three years ago.3D sensing in smartphones felt like an overnight sensation, but the technology foundations were laid down years ago with Microsoft’s Kinect – a motion-sensing peripheral for gamers released in 2010 but discontinued in 2017 after lackluster sales. Lumentum supplied lasers to the Kinect almost a decade before the iPhone opportunity emerged; the company was ready to profit from the iPhone X opportunity when Apple decided to launch 3D sensing for facial recognition in September 2017.
Figure: 3D depth-sensing meets the Gartner Hype Cycle
Source: Gartner with edits by LightCounting
If all technologies follow the Gartner Hype Cycle, shown in the Figure above, then 3D sensing in smartphones is now moving up the slope of enlightenment. Android brands raced to add 3D sensing to their flagship phones in 2018 – the Xiaomi Mi8 Explorer and Oppo Find X phones were first – although these only sold in single digit million quantities. Huawei also brought out new phones with 3D sensing, but the ongoing U.S. export ban on the Chinese company must be hurting the company’s traction outside China. Apple continues to dominate the market as all new iPhones released by Apple since 2017 have included 3D sensing on the front of the phone. Apple is expected to introduce 3D sensing for ‘world-facing’ applications in 2020, which adds another laser chip to every phone.
Last year illumination for lidars were not included in our market forecast since LightCounting considered it unlikely that lidar would penetrate the consumer market to any great extent over the forecast period. All indicators now point to a market for lidar illumination ramping up in 2022 and beyond. Optical components firms are now shipping prototypes and samples of VCSELs, edge emitters and coherent lasers to customers developing next-generation lidar systems – many of them building on their expertise in illumination for optical communications and smartphones.
As was the case with smartphones, the foundations for lidar technology were laid down much earlier – in this case with the DARPA Challenge 2007, where the winning vehicle used a 64-laser lidar system from Velodyne Acoustics (now Velodyne Lidar). Lidar is considered by the majority of the industry to be an essential part of the sensor suite required for autonomous driving, helping the vehicle to navigate through the environment and detect obstacles in its path. The first commercial deployments have begun. In Germany, lidar on the Audi A8 enables the car to drive itself for limited periods under specific conditions. In Phoenix, Arizona, you can hail a ride in a Waymo robotaxi.
Investor enthusiasm for lidar is undeniable with nearly half a billion dollars invested in lidar start-ups in 2019 according to our analysis of publicly available investment data. Notable deals include $60 million for U.S. company Ouster in March, Israel’s Innoviz Technologies Series C round of $132 million in the same month, and $100 million for U.S.-based Luminar Technologies in July. Interestingly, these examples illustrate the variety of lidar approaches: each company is building a different type of lidar based on a different wavelength: 850nm for Ouster, 905nm for Innoviz and 1550nm in the case of Luminar. There’s an open technology battle and they can’t all be winners.
The automotive lidar market seems to be close to the peak of ‘inflated expectations’. It’s easy to understand why. The automotive industry is enormous, with nearly 100 million vehicles (including trucks) produced annually. Players like Baidu, GM Cruise and Waymo are backed by deep corporate pockets, and new entrants like Aurora and Pony.ai are attracting hundreds of millions in investment. Intel’s $15.3 billion purchase of Mobileye in 2017 was also directed at autonomous driving. Sensor company AMS is in a $4.8 billion battle to acquire German semiconductor lighting firm Osram with its eye firmly on lidar.
However, signs indicate that the descent into the trough of disillusionment could have already begun. Waymo has yet to roll out its robotaxi services more widely – and this summer admitted that its vehicles needed more testing in the rain. GM Cruise has delayed launch of commercial services for self-driving cars beyond 2019 and is reluctant to commit to a new timescale, with its CEO Dan Ammann observing that safety is paramount; automotive is not an industry where you can “move fast and break things” he said. A casualty of the slow pace was optical phased array lidar developer Oryx Vision, which closed its doors in August and started to hand money back to investors.
While lidar is being deployed commercially today, prices are not conducive to mass production, and there are open questions around regulation, safety, ethics and consumer acceptance. Do local laws prohibit self-driving cars? Will they really be safer than humans? Who is responsible for a crash? LightCounting remains skeptical about the pace of adoption of autonomous vehicles, but will be watching the market closely and with optimism.
More information on the report is available at: https://www.lightcounting.com/Sensing.cfm.