SEMICON West: What a difference a year makes

Last week I was very busy visiting the combined SEMICON West and Intersolar North America trade shows in San Francisco. I had numerous meetings in addition to visiting the show floors and attending the excellent presentations. Based upon the lackluster show last year – I’ve heard some use “abysmal” to describe it – I almost hesitated to attend.

I’m happy to report that this year’s show was significantly better with a much more positive attitude and energy. SEMI’s preliminary attendance figure (for the combined show) is 29,461 which is up 32% from last year’s 17,048 verified attendance. This is significantly higher than both organizers expected. Intersolar had expected 1,600 visitors but had over twice as many. (The final numbers will be out in about two weeks in the “Post Show” report.)

Having attended for more than 15 years, I can certainly attest that SEMICON has changed. It is true that in down economic years the show has been muted. However, it is very unlikely to return to a show as large as the “good” years when it was in both in San Francisco (“Front End” – wafer fabrication equipment and materials) and San Jose (“Back End” – packaging and test) filling all the convention space available in both cities. This was last done in 2004 and visitor attendance topped 50,000. Not only are the basic semiconductor and solar industries not growing at a rate to justify the expenses, many companies have stopped exhibiting all together and the remaining exhibitors have reduced their booths to more economical configurations.

Another interesting figure is the shift in the number of attendees who expressed interest in visiting both shows. Upon registering, attendees are asked which show they plan to visit:

Registration Interest – Show To Attend
Show 2008 2009 2010
SEMICON West Only 41% 24% 17%
Both Shows 55% 60% 71%
Intersolar Only 5% 16% 12%

When Intersolar was first introduced in 2008 in North America in conjunction with SEMICON West, SEMI’s basic argument was that there was significant cross-over interest between the shows both in terms of visitors and exhibitors. This is especially true for silicon photo voltaics (Si PV) since the fundamental equipment and processes are the same. Many skeptics had suggested it was simply SEMI’s attempt to boost its attendance numbers at SEMICON West. On the basis of these numbers it clearly shows that there is real cross-over interest. However, the question exhibitors need to ask is the cross-over traffic real interest or simply industrial tourism?

All and all, a good show. And well worth attending on many fronts. As I catch up, I’ll post more about the shows.

2 thoughts on “SEMICON West: What a difference a year makes”

  1. HI Ira,
    Do you know of any courses in Product Management to be made available at Semicon West 2011?

    1. Hi Mark,

      Semicon West has been light on general tutorials recently. Most of the conference sessions are either working group / committee meetings or on a very specific topic.

      The only session that stands out that I saw on the main agenda in terms of Product Management is the tutorial Understanding and Using Cost of Ownership (COO) by Wright William & Kelly. Needless to say understanding how your customers look at cost is critical to appropriately valuing your products.

      I hope this helps.


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