Exclusive interview with UPEC--Striving to become the next HTC of the LED industry

Recently, LEDinside paid a visit to UPEC, a Taiwanese LED packaging manufacturer. Our analysts interviewed Mr. David Lee (LEE Shao Tang), the general manager of UPEC, to get a view of UPEC's current state of operation and it's outlook for 2009. Mr. Lee is very experienced, as he previously worked for IBM, Oracle Taiwan, Dopod China, and HTC. He was once the president of Dopod China and the vice president of HTC for the Asia-pacific region. We were very curious about the reason why Mr. Lee chose to enter the LED industry while he was just on the peak of his career. 

Entering a right industry gives Mr. Lee a broader stage

Many people couldn't understand why Mr. Lee chose to leave HTC and join UPEC. Therefore, during the first week when he came to UPEC, Mr. Lee wrote a letter to all the more than 200 employees of UPEC to tell them several reasons which let him make such a choice. First, the LED industry will certainly grow bigger and bigger in the next decade, therefore UPEC is on the right boat. Second, the chairman of UPEC gives as much power as he can to Mr. Lee, so Mr. Lee, as a professional manager, can own a broader stage to show what he has. Third, UPEC has a great potential in offering integrated services, which is much like HTC. A lot of HTC products start from the experience of users. Definitely in the future UPEC will take the Blue Ocean Strategy.

Mr. Lee believes he has entered a right industry, which gives him a broader stage to show what he has. Mr. Lee hopes he can bring his successful experiences to the management of UPEC.

The transformation: develop high power LED and related module product

In its early stage UPEC focused on low power LED(high brightness LED). One of its main products was handset backlight. But in recent years, in order to enter the lighting industry, UPEC made a transformation by turning to the development of high power LED packaging and modules, as well as the design of lamps. UPEC hired more than 30 engineers to develop in Optotronics, thermal solutions, electronics and precision metal stamping. UPEC also put a lot of effort on ceramic substrates.

As a result, modules and lighting-related applications have become UPEC's main products. 70% of its revenue comes from module development and 30% from elements.

Take the lead in launching value-revolutionized products which can catch people’s attention

At present the operation strategy of UPEC is developing value-revolutionized products, which is mainly the utilization of UPEC's technology advantages in LTCC( Low-Temperature Co-fired Ceramics) technology to develop high value-added applications. Mr. Lee also brings his experiences in the handset and communication industries into the development project. Take HTC's handsets for example, HTC tends to realize its design concepts for handsets by making a test sample. Through this HTC's customers can see, touch and feel the real thing. Also, HTC lets its customers try the User Interface repeatedly and acquire their opinions.

The same strategy is applied to UPEC's LED products, especially those which can catch consumers' attention. Therefore the whole process, from Concept, Idea, Design in, Mockup, Testing sample, Mass Production to End of life, takes around 2 to 3 years. UPEC hope it can launch eye-catching products earlier than others so it can enjoy a higher earning which can only be achieved when a product is still new.

The focus for 2009: TV-related applications and lighting products

UPEC will still focus on development of device and module. UPEC will develop innovative TV-related applications and lighting products in 2009. 

The view from LEDinside

UPEC is still experiencing the throes of transformation, it may have better performance after it launches new products in 2009. As UPEC has to keep its confidential secrets, except the environmental lighting source which UPEC manufactures for branded TV makers, our analysts didn't see other new products.

At present many LED makers, from packaging, chip making, peripheral product to components, begin to integrate their product for market. But their concepts of product development are still focus on integration of technology, some of them don’t know what the consumer actually wants.

As Mr. Lee said, the key issue for many LED manufacturers is to come up with a design that can catch the attention of consumers.

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