Laser applications by segment
Medical & aesthetic
The Market Segments
The communications and optical storage segment remains the
largest in the laser industry, followed by materials processing
and lithography lasers. And for 2014, medical and aesthetic
laser sales totals continued to be larger than the instrumentation and sensors category, followed by the scientific research
and military category.
Communications and optical storage
Optical storage weakness continues to damper overall laser
sales in the communications and optical storage sector; however,
communications laser sales are vigorous. PIC-based communications network system provider Infinera calls it the “Terabit
Era” and reported sales growth to $174 million in Q3 2014
compared to $142 million in the same quarter last year. And
LightCounting (Eugene, OR) said that global sales of optical
transceivers reached $1.1 billion in Q2 2014, the fifth consecutive quarter of growth.
Communications and optical storage laser revenues reached
$3.515 billion in 2014 and are forecast to grow around 2.8%
to $3.615 billion in 2015. Despite glowing financials from most
telecom laser providers in 2014, the Dell’Oro Group (Redwood
City, CA) projects a telecom capital equipment expenditure drop
in 2015, citing high mobile device penetration, slower mobile
data growth, lack of new revenue streams, and increased competition from developed and undeveloped markets. This forecast, however, is quite perplexing considering how the optical
communications industry is promoting the “Internet of Things”
(Io T): the connection of equipment and devices to the cloud for
the purpose of remote monitoring, diagnostics, and a whole
host of yet-to-be-named “smart” applications.
“From networked systems utilized in railways and electric
power grids to edge switches and client devices that connect as-
sets like laptops, field devices and wireless access points, Cisco
and Intel enable Predix [software] to be distributed to the edge,
even in some of the most severe conditions,” said Bill Ruh,
VP of GE Software (San Ramon, CA), in a press release that
describes how hardware and software mesh in an Io T world.
Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA) chairman and CEO John
Chambers, in a keynote at the 2014 International Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, reportedly “pegged the
value of the evolving Io T” at $19 trillion, describing how Io T-based smart cities, for example, could see a direct return on
investment through a smarter infrastructure. For quantitative
backing, keynote guest speaker Antoni Vives, deputy mayor
of Barcelona, Spain, said the city has saved $58 million a year
using a smart water system, $37.5 million on smart lighting,
and has increased parking revenue by one third through the
use of smart parking meters.
Whether you call it the Io T or simply a world of “smart
gadgets” that will convert the driver’s seat of an automobile
(or a farmer’s tractor in the New Economy) into an Internet-connected data hub, it’s fortunate that photonics—and yes,
lasers—are the “fuel” for this information engine. Can you
imagine how much faster the Internet will need to operate in
order to seamlessly manage the 4. 9 billion connected devices that Gartner (Stamford, CT) says will be in use in 2015—
up 30% from 2014—and forecast to reach 25 billion devices by 2020?
Communications & optical storage
Includes all laser diodes used in telecommunications, data
communications, and optical storage applications, including
pumps for optical amplifiers.
While 2013 and 2014 were relatively strong in the
communications sector, there are signs that 2015 may be
a bit slower. 100G has been the jumping point these last
two years, driven in large part by wireless operators building
up their backbones. Driving this on the device side, LTE and
Wi-Fi networks continue to be deployed, and data traffic
continues to grow.
Prospects remain dim for optical storage. Streamed movies
and music continues to grow in popularity, and solid-state
memory prices continue to drop. Heat-assisted magnetic
recording (“HAMR”) or using lasers to increase storage capacity
of magnetic media may have some commercial products by
2016 or 2017, but with the growing use of Cloud services by
consumers, it is likely HAMR will only find use in some very
specific niche server farm applications.
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Year