Industry Dynamics and Trends of LED lighting by CREE

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LED lamp
by Dario Rossi

Cree, Inc. (Cree, we, our, or us) is a leading innovator of lighting-class light emitting diode (LED) products, lighting products and semiconductor products for power and radio-frequency (RF) applications. Products are targeted for applications such as indoor and outdoor lighting, video displays, transportation, electronic signs and signals, power supplies, inverters and wireless systems.  

CREE develops and manufactures semiconductor materials and devices primarily based on silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride (GaN) and related compounds. In many cases, the properties of SiC and GaN offer technical advantages over traditional silicon, gallium arsenide (GaAs) and other materials used for electronic applications.  

LED products consist of LED components, LED chips and SiC materials. As LED technology improves, we believe the potential market for LED lighting will continue to expand. Our success in selling LED products depends upon our ability to offer innovative products and our ability to enable our customers to develop and market LED based products that successfully compete and drive LED adoption against traditional lighting products.  

In addition, Cree develops, manufactures and sells power and RF devices.

The majority of products are manufactured at their production facilities located in North Carolina, Wisconsin and China. Cree also use contract manufacturers for certain aspects of product fabrication, assembly and packaging. Cree operate research and development facilities in North Carolina, California, Wisconsin, India and China.

There are a number of industry factors that affect Led business which include, among others:  

  • Overall Demand for Products and Applications using LEDs. Potential for growth depends significantly on the adoption of LEDs within the general lighting market and our ability to affect this rate of adoption. Although the market for LED lighting has grown in recent years, adoption of LEDs for general lighting is relatively new, still limited, and faces significant challenges before widespread adoption. Demand also fluctuates based on various market cycles, a continuously evolving LED industry supply chain, and demand dynamics in the market. These uncertainties make demand difficult to forecast for Cree and customers.  

  • Intense and Constantly Evolving Competitive Environment. Competition in the LED and lighting industry is intense. Many companies have made significant investments in LED development and production equipment. Traditional lighting companies and new entrants are investing in LED-based lighting products as LED adoption has gained momentum. Traditional lighting companies have taken steps to try and limit access to their sales channels, including lighting agents and distributors. Product pricing pressures exist as market participants often undertake pricing strategies to gain or protect market share, increase the utilization of their production capacity and open new applications to LED-based solutions. To remain competitive, market participants must continuously increase product performance and reduce costs. To address these competitive pressures, Cree have invested in R&D activities to support new product development to deliver higher levels of performance and lower costs to differentiate our products in the market.  

  • Technological Innovation and Advancement.   Innovations and advancements in LED, power and RF technologies continue to expand the potential commercial application for our products, particularly in the general illumination, power electronics and wireless markets. However, new technologies or standards could emerge, or improvements could be made in existing technologies, that could reduce or limit the demand for our products in certain markets.  

  • Regulatory Actions Concerning Energy Efficiency.   Many countries have already instituted or have announced plans to institute government regulations and programs designed to encourage or mandate increased energy efficiency, even in some cases banning forms of incandescent lighting, which are advancing the adoption of more energy efficient lighting solutions such as LEDs. Government agencies are also involved in setting standards for LED lighting, which can affect market acceptance and the availability of rebates from government agencies or third parties such as utilities. While this trend is generally positive, these regulations are affected by changing political priorities and evolving technical standards which can modify or limit the effectiveness of these new regulations.  

  • Intellectual Property Issues. Market participants rely on patented and non-patented proprietary information relating to product development, manufacturing capabilities and other core competencies of their business. Protection of intellectual property is critical. Therefore, steps such as additional patent applications, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, as well as other security measures are generally taken. To enforce or protect intellectual property rights, litigation or threatened litigation commonly occurs. 

source: CREE Inc, "Annual Report", August 28, 2013



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