Rao R. Tummala
The JTEC panel found Japan to have significant leadership over the United States in the strategic area of electronic packaging. Many technologies and products once considered the "heart and soul" of U.S. industry have been lost over the past several decades to Japan and other Asian countries. The loss of consumer electronics technologies and products is the most notable of these losses, because electronics is the United States' largest employment sector and is critical for growth businesses in consumer products, computers, automobiles, aerospace, and telecommunications. In the past there was a distinction between consumer and industrial product technologies. While Japan concentrated on the consumer market, the United States dominated the industrial sector. No such distinction is anticipated in the future; the consumer-oriented technologies Japan has dominated are expected to characterize both domains. The future of U.S. competitiveness will therefore depend on the ability of the United States to rebuild its technological capabilities in the area of portable electronic packaging.
A 1993 study by MCC and Sandia National Laboratory on U.S. industrial competitiveness in electronic packaging technology concluded the following:
As shown in Figure 4.1, the United States leads in microprocessors, computer systems, software, and industrial electronics markets, while Japan is a clear leader in DRAMs, batteries, displays, and electronic packaging technologies that support its domination of consumer electronics markets.
Figure 4.1. Japan's technological and market leadership.
As packaging technologies and related components become essential to next-generation products, an increasing proportion of components and equipment required for the production of commercial products must be imported by the United States from Japan or other Asian countries. The market for such imports is expected to exceed $100 billion by the year 2000, a tenfold increase over today's market.