Reflecting on the successes of the Japanese consumer electronics business, the JTEC panel finds that having a clear vision of new or next-generation products and their supporting technological developments is a critical factor. Gearing for specific end-products by proceeding along a well-defined road for developing components within specific size and performance parameters has allowed for efficient use of resources and rapid development timeframes. There is little doubt in the minds of panel members that the Japanese companies they visited will be successful in their development efforts, particularly since members of Japan's electronics industry cooperate to overcome technical barriers.

The ability to develop and introduce next-generation products is based on a broad range of technological and manufacturing capabilities that has shifted in importance over the past decades. Reductions in product life cycles and component sizes have placed manufacturing technologies at the center of the competitive equation today. With the increased miniaturization of products and their components and parts, equipment nonavailability can become a barrier to rapid introduction of new products and components. Updated process technology is one of the underlying forces highlighted in this report that is critical to future success in electronic packaging and consumer electronics.

While companies like Sony have been product innovators, introducing a series of new products that have created new markets, the majority of Japanese suppliers have been successful by concentrating their efforts on developing succeeding generations of innovative feeder products. U.S. innovations have been lost over time to foreign competitors who quickly have exploited the technology to advance their product strategies. There must be a vision of next-generation developments for product leadership to be maintained over time.

Published: February 1995; WTEC Hyper-Librarian