Just what do we think we're doing?

Yes, we've done it again—we've changed the format of our Optical Engineering Sourcebook. You won't find a single table in this publication. Not because we don't think the tables have value—we do. We just don't think that setting them in stone in print and therefore rendering them out of date almost immediately makes a heck of a lot of sense when we have better options.

So we've taken advantage of one of those options and moved the tables to where they do make sense: our Website. Thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web, we not only can make the tables available to readers like you, but we also can provide a mechanism to update them daily (if necessary) as new products emerge, as others disappear, or as companies consolidate. You'll find the same comprehensive specs as before, which enables you to compare the capabilities of hundreds of products and services from manufacturers around the world. They're pretty easy to find, too:

  1. Go to www.lightwaveonline.com.
  2. On the right-hand side of our Website's homepage, click on the cover of this year's Sourcebook. It will appear in a box labeled "Resource Guide."
  3. You'll be taken to a search-engine page. Enter the product type you want to investigate, or the company, and click "Go." You can also select a broad product category for further investigation from the same page.

It's that simple. And for you vendor marketing types who are shocked, shocked, to discover that your company isn't listed either in the directory pages in this publication or our online Sourcebook, you can do more about it than send me aggrieved e-mails. You can rectify the situation yourself by following the instructions above and clicking on the big blue "Get Listed for Free" button on the search page. You'll be given a password and instructions for creating your company listing and submitting product specs for the online tables. (Of course, we reserve the right to apply the same editorial scrutiny to the online information that we exercise in print.)

Which leaves us with the issue of what we did decide to put in print this year. We do think having a list of vendors, divided into product categories, is useful to have on hand. So starting on page 21, you'll find a list of the product categories currently online, under which you'll find company and contact info for the manufacturers and service providers who responded to our calls for information. Want more data? You can visit our Sourcebook tables online to review product specifications or follow the company URLs provided here to see what the vendors have to say themselves.

Of course, other people provide similar directories, and we're not interested in merely copying what other publications do. So in recognition of the fact that the optical communications landscape has shifted dramatically over the last few years, we thought you might find it interesting to hear our opinion on who has done the best job of keeping their feet.

So we hereby inaugurate our "Top 5" issue, where we offer our wholly subjective and potentially controversial two cents on the top suppliers in such market categories as components/subsystems, systems, and test equipment. We also offer a list of the Top 5 Asian companies (in deference to the crucial role in optical communications that region of the world will play in 2004) as well as five vendors to watch. And since nothing happens in the market without a customer, we cite five carriers that we think will have the most profound influence on the market this year.

How did we make our choices? Well, covering the market is what we do for a living—and naturally, we form opinions about the different companies as we speak to them and their potential customers. The same can be said for market researchers and financial analysts, so we consulted with many of them as well. In that vein, the editorial staff would like to thank several people for their input as we created our lists: Lawrence Gasman (CIR), Jeff and Stephen Montgomery (ElectroniCast), Jessy Cavazos and Sailaja Tennati (Frost & Sullivan), Sterling Perrin (IDC), Richard Mack and Michael Arden (KMI Research), Julian Rawley (Pioneer Research), Dana Cooperson and Brenna Hawtof (RHK), and Tom Hausken (Strategies Unlimited).

The Top 5 lists beginning on page 7 are the result of a fair amount of debate—and we assume they'll start an equal amount of debate among readers and the rest of the optical communications community. Feel free to e-mail me at stephenh@pennwell.com with praise, damnation, or your own lists. We'll print a representative sampling of the mail we receive in a future issue of Lightwave.

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