The 2009 laser numbers are in

By Tom Hausken
The numbers are in, and the laser market dropped to $5.3 billion in 2009, a 24% decline from the record high of $7.0 billion achieved in 2008. While sales will remain sluggish in many sectors, overall revenues are already on the rise on a quarterly basis, with 11% growth expected in 2010.


Companies doing better than average were few, but the military and biomedical sectors stand out. For example, the OCT equipment market grew in 2009, as reported in our new market study .

Other than those sectors, as a rule, the larger the capital equipment, the worse that sector did in 2009. So sales of diode lasers for CD and DVD players didn’t do well, but sales of welding equipment for making cars and trucks was particularly difficult. And, companies with fiscal years that ended last September saw even sharper declines in annual sales than, say, those on a July to June schedule.

There were surprisingly few changes among the list of suppliers in 2009, including announcements from Oclaro and from Sumitomo. Most consolidation was internal to suppliers in the form of layoffs or securing market share within niches. Much more significant are the mergers and changes at the customer level, whether it is Ciena buying Nortel’s optical operation or GM’s spin-offs and plant closures.

There’s much more to the numbers. They are based on the annual Laser Focus World market survey, to be presented at the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar in San Francisco on January 25.
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