Interview with Macroblock Chairman, Dr. Li-Chang Yang: 2009 Will be Macroblock’s First Year of Entering the Illumination Market

LEDinside has recently visited Dr. Li-Chang Yang, Chairman of Taiwan’s LED  IC manufacturer Macroblock Tech, to get some knowledge about the current situation on the global LED display (LED advertising screen) market, and the future developing direction of the company.
Macroblock Tech is a leading provider of display driving ICs, with the global market share of its display driving IC products exceeding 40%. In 2009, besides introducing more new high-end LED display driving ICs to keep the high market share, the company will also aggressively expand into the lighting market by releasing several lighting driving ICs, aiming to push the revenue proportion of lighting IC products to above 10% in 2009. 


 The global economic downturn has impacts on display industry, while Chinese domestic market is backed up
Concerning current market situation, Dr.Yang said that the global outdoors display market, especially the advertising signal market, has been under the influence of economic downturn, with the revenue of Q12009 dropping comparing with the same period last year. By district, the U.S. market was influenced the most severely while the European market performed better, especially the signals for traffic usages haven’t much shrunk in demand under help of the government enhancing public construction. 
As to Chinese market, the clients depending mainly on exporting are impacted more severely and were not operating well during the first quarter. In contrast, the domestic demand was satisfactory, such as orders for the display screens at railway stations, and from the display screen bidding for World Expo 2010 Shanghai. 
To release multiple high-end display screen solutions, maintaining the advantageous competition status in the market
In the display screen field, Macroblock’s driving ICs has a 40% market share in the global display screen market. The competitiveness of a company is related to the quality of its products, said Dr.Yang. In 2006, Macroblock introduced the 16-digit LED driving IC prior to the market, and its market share surged because the product quality reached the requested standard of market. Currently, the company’s 16-digit line (MBI5020~MBI5039) alone includes ten types of products to meet the different requirements of customers. 
Guided by its 2009 product strategy, the company is continuously introducing high-end display screen solutions, such as MBI5040, the constant current LED driver which combines the digital correction function and PWM function, to focus on the high-end customers while setting product segmentations as well as creating market trend. Yang specially noted that the display screen driving IC in 2009 will still improve on visual updating rate and automotive error detection technologies. And the high current precision he specially mentioned, that through the company’s Precision-drive technology, the maximum Channel Skew and Chip Skew are decreased to as low as ±1.5% and ±3% respectively. Such small current differences can help LED screens achieve the uniformness in color and brightness and reach more vivid image effect. 
Besides producing appropriate products, Macroblock also regards value-added service as one of its competitive advantages. At present, the company’s customer service includes all-day-around response to customers for providing technological support and consulting advices. And the 20 marketing spots all over the world substantially shorten the design, manufacturing and maintain periods of LED display screens for clients. 


2009 Will be Macroblock’s First Year of Entering the Illumination Market; LED streetlight market to be the focus
As to lighting IC market which the company has newly stepped in, Macroblock has released several AC/DC,DC/DC converter ICs this year, hoping to raise the revenue portion of lighting ICs to above 10%. Among others, Dr.Yang is most optimistic in growth in Chinese market, especially in Chinese LED streetlight market. At present, a large part of demand for lighting products is from government’s streetlight tenders.

Macroblock has already released MBI6651 DC/DC driving ICs to meet the LED streetlight market. However, as the lighting market features demand from biddings, the promoting accesses must be rearranged. Besides, as most customers are not so familiar with the power technologies, Macroblock especially appoints the service staff to assist and instruct the customers. Currently, Macroblock already has more than 400 clients around the world. And the company effectively integrates the support of different spots to reduce the time for goods delivery and manufacturing time of customer-side products.
The whole AC/DC power architecture poses a challenge; at the same time, IC designers are not so familiar with the power management, so the design of AC/DC products is rather difficult. Currently, there are few manufacturers in Taiwan which have successfully developed AC/DC converter, thus this market has much growth potential.


View from LEDinside
Terminal LED products are diversified in application and have large room for growth. For Taiwan’s manufacturers, it will be the largest advantage to provide a diversity of LED application solutions by combining their IC design strength with effective technological support. And it is a good developing orientation for Macroblock to begin from the niche market and effectively establish its specificity.

Under the global economic recession, consumer products are more obviously influenced, which has made vendors to cut advertising cost, depressing the growth of LED display screen market. As a result, many driving IC manufacturers have look to the semi-conductor lighting market for the next major battle field, which is expected to speed the LED lighting market to become mature.


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