14 November 2003 Palo Alto, CA Lightwave -- Frost & Sullivan has awarded blue ribbons to four companies in the optical components space based on the results of its study, "World Fiber Optic Electronic Components." The market research, analysis, and consulting firm cited JDS Uniphase as the market share leader, Agere Systems as the technology leader, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave as tops in brand awareness, and ADC Telecommunications as best in customer service.
Frost & Sullivan commonly cites companies for top performance upon completion of industry reports says Keith Robinson, industry manager for surface-mount technology and electronic components and lead analyst on the optical component study. The firm gathered input from what Robinson says are "senior-level people" on these four areas in the course of doing its primary research for the study.
"We normally talk to the VP of marketing, which is the primary title that we typically to a lot of times for the market trends. Then, if we get into technical issues and things of that nature, we'll talk to some of the key product managers and some of the applications engineers. And on the end-user side, what we'll typically do is talk to the major commodity manager or an application manager that actually uses that particular product," Robinson says. Input for the component report came from sources around the world, he adds.
The determination of which company rules market share derives naturally from the study. JDS Uniphase's position at the top of Frost & Sullivan's list echoes the findings of other research firms that have also named the company the market leader.
However, determination of the other award winners is not so cut-and-dry. Much of the input for these rankings come from conversations with end users -- which, in the case of the components study, included major carriers such as the RBOCs as well as cable-TV companies. For the customer service category, Frost & Sullivan researchers offer a list of companies and ask the end user to discuss such topics as how well each company works with them on product design and how well they respond to problems. ADC Telecommunications garnered the most praise this year.
"When we're looking at brand awareness, we ask who has a strong brand equity within the industry; why does that company have a strong brand name awareness in the industry; and how does this brand name compare with some of the other brand names?" Robinson explains. According to a press release Frost & Sullivan issued this week, other considerations include the financial strength of the company and its perceived commitment to the market. The firm also considers advertising as a component of brand development strategy and industry exposure. Sumitomo Electric Lightwave did the best job of combining these elements, the analysts discovered.
The technology award is perhaps the most subjective, although in some industries the choice can be clear, according to Robinson. "Typically for that award, we're looking out for companies that are groundbreaking, that are developing products that are taking a leadership role," he says. "In some industries, you'll find that some companies fall back and let someone else develop a technology, then follow what the other technology leaders do. Or some companies don't invest a lot in R&D, where some other companies invest more in R&D than other companies."
Agere Systems, a developer of ICs for a variety of communications applications, best met the criteria, in the analysts' view.
As for the study itself, Frost & Sullivan reports -- not surprisingly ¿ that the optical components industry has suffered significantly during the downturn. The analysts urge companies within the optical electronic component industry to focus on new product lines and geographic regions, with Asia offering the most opportunity. In addition, medical facilities in need of network upgrades offer a potential bright spot, as well as a glimmer of hope for companies looking to branch out of telecommunications and into such optical applications as bio-medical sensors.