LightFair 2010

Outdoor and indoor commercial lighting was the main focus, and residential retrofit bulbs less so. Although it is a lighting show rather than an LED show, many of the major LED companies such as Nichia and Seoul Semiconductor had a good presence at the show.


IMS research: excellence in market intelligneceI have just returned from a visit to Las Vegas for the annual LightFair show which alternates between east coast and west coast. It is a decent sized show, but I was surprised when I got there that it wasn’t even bigger, as I thought I’d read somewhere that it was the biggest lighting show in the world. Later I realised that their claim is the largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show. The biannual Frankfurt Light and Building show is much bigger.

Having attended Frankfurt last month, it was a case of more of the same in terms of high presence of LED, products with good CRI and so on. Outdoor and indoor commercial lighting was the main focus, and residential retrofit bulbs less so. Although it is a lighting show rather than an LED show, many of the major LED companies such as Nichia and Seoul Semiconductor had a good presence at the show. Not surprisingly Cree, who is strongly promoting LEDs in general lighting and were displaying a 100 Lumens/watt fixture (which they claim as a first), also had many people at the show, and went for a rather bold approach proclaiming from their booth, which was clearly visible from the hall entrance, that the “end is near.. the end of inferior light” and even made a reference to “the end of CFLs”.

I attended the trade show/ exhibition rather than the conference. Most of the major lighting companies were present as exhibitors, although the booths are not of a large size. The show organisers announced a record pre-registration numbers during the show and claimed that the show was the most successful west coast event in their history. I haven’t attended the east coast version yet, but people tell me that it is generally a bigger event. The next one will be in Philadelphia on May 15th-19th 2011.

There wasn’t anything at the show to change my mind about the long term prospects for LEDs in general lighting. Some people do believe in a coming surge or exponential growth from 2012 for LEDs in general lighting. That’s certainly possible, but many people like to predict such things when they are going to benefit from it. There is also a good argument for a continued flatter growth as LED efficiency and quality improves only steadily. Also, different LED lighting applications take off at different times, leading to a flatter growth overall when all these growth curves are added together. The best guess at the moment is somewhere between the two extremes – i.e. a steady growth to 2012 and somewhat faster after that. However IMS Research will be looking at this to refine predictions in more detail over the coming months and years.

Although I have attended two general lighting shows recently, some of my LED discussions with people focused on all applications did naturally turn to the issue of the boom in the LED market from TVs which is happening this year and next year, and the supply shortages being caused by this. While general lighting is clearly the long term future for LED, this TV/supply issue is still perceived to be the number one issue in the industry at the moment, and will probably remain so next year as well. However by 2012 the picture for LEDs in TVs may be much clearer and at this time there will be much more LED capacity online. Combined with improved efficiency and pricing for LEDs, the general lighting market could reach serious volumes at this stage and could benefit from this extra capacity in the industry, although it is important to realise that lighting LEDs, with larger die sizes and other different specifications, are a different class of product and so such a transition is not trivial, neither from a technological standpoint nor in terms of intellectual property.

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