Monday, January 14, 2019

Semiconductor shock?

Interesting article in the Korea Times on what it calls "semiconductor shock."  This has been more widely reported this week in the Korean press. To understand the percentages in the accompanying graphic, I recommend reading of the article.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Semiconductor super cycle to end in 2019

As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily, industry sources are reporting that the semiconductor super-cycle that sustained Korea's exports during 2017 and 2018 will likely come to an end this year (2019).  The article contains some interesting details, including the following. (click on graphic at left for a full size version)
  • "Last year, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix enjoyed-record breaking performances. The combined DRAM market share for the two companies as of end of the third quarter was 73.5 percent. Samsung Electronics currently holds the No. 1 spot in the global market with a share of 43.6 percent, while SK Hynix has 29.9 percent of the market. Micron Technology is in third with 21.6 percent."
  •  "The outlook for the three main markets for semiconductors - smartphones, computers and data centers - is negative.
    It is estimated that last year 1.44 billion smartphones were shipped. If that number holds and is not revised, 2018 would be the first year since 2007 - the year of the iPhone’s introduction - in which the market has contracted."

Monday, December 31, 2018

The perils of over reliance on manufactured products exports in ICT

My lack of posts this month is largely because I've been working on the second edition of my book, Digital Development in Korea (with Dr. Oh Myung).  Depending on Routledge's production schedules, it should appear in 2019. One chapter of the book deals with long term trends in Korea's ICT exports, including the "super cycle" in semiconductor (integrated circuit) exports during 2017 and 2018.  Consequently I was struck by yesterday's article in The Korea Times entitled "Samsung, SK Hynix bracing for global chip downturn."
Industry data show that the global market for semiconductors has already begun to decline, as shown in the graphic (click for a full size version).  The article quotes a Statistics Korea executive as saying that 
"Orders from data centers have recently been falling off while smartphone production has been stagnating, resulting in falling demand for DRAM for servers and memory chips for mobile phones."  It also notes that the downturn in the chip market is likely to deal a blow to the Korean economy because semiconductor exports account for more than 20 percent of total exports.
The Korea Times article seems like a fitting topic for my lone post of December.  As the year comes to a close, it is well for Korean policymakers to remember that more than three-quarters of the global market for ICT products is made up of software and services.  The challenge for this country in 2019 and beyond lies in those areas, not in continued reliance on hardware manufacturing and export.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Bixpo Exhibition: Energy transition and digital transformation

The Korea Joongang Daily carried an interesting article today on the Bitgaram International Expo of Electric Power Technology (Bixpo), a forum organized by Kepco, in Gwangju on Wednesday. “Power companies around the world are facing an enormous historic change called an ‘energy paradigm shift,’” said Kepco CEO Kim Jong-kap during the opening of Bixpo. “The first major paradigm shift is the digital transformation, which will mean that our children will experience a world that is completely different from the one we have been living in.
“Big data, artificial intelligence [AI], the Internet of Things and other core technologies of the fourth industrial revolution are rapidly tearing down industrial boarders,” Kim said.
He said that such changes are forcing the electric power sector to be interconnected and fuse with other industries that it previously hadn’t thought of, such as the automotive, finance, construction and communications industries.
I'm teaching a graduate seminar this semester on "Digital technologies for disaster risk reduction," and we are discussing all of the technologies mentioned in the Joongang Daily article.   Personally I would argue that the industrial convergence noted by CEO Kim is part of the continuing third industrial revolution, driven by digital technologies, rather than a fourth such revolution as promoted by the World Economic Forum.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Seoul has the most economic clout of any capital city

With half of South Korea's population and a high concentration of its top industries, universities and schools at all levels, the following chart from Statista stands to reason.