Despite setbacks, laser markets achieve double-digit growth
After two years of retrenchment brought on by the telecom troubles and global economic woes, the world's laser markets achieved a remarkable 15% growth in 2003...
After two years of retrenchment brought on by the telecom troubles and global economic woes, the world's laser markets achieved a remarkable 15% growth in 2003 according to this year's annual Review and Forecast of the Laser Markets (see p. 75). This figure was all the more notable given that sales of nondiode lasers actually fell about 2% during the year. Diode lasers more than made up the difference, however, as they continue to gain ground in the overall marketplace—contrary to our expectations last year, sales of semiconductor lasers actually crested the $3 billion mark in 2003 and look set to continue at a healthy clip though 2004.
Bolstering this news is the continuing flow of positive economic reports from the U.S. government, a rebounding stock market, and the November announcement from the semiconductor industry association (SEMI) that that industry's book-to-bill ratio in October hit 1.00 for the first time since August 2002. All things considered, an upbeat outlook with which to begin the New Year!
What's new in 2004?
Our "Back to Basics" series continues this year with a new topic. Contributing editor Jeff Hecht explains the role of optoelectronics in defense and security-related applications, starting this month by examining the Airborne Laser Program (see page. 105). Future articles in this series will cover optical surveillance satellites, biological-agent sensing, and optical countermeasures, among other things. Contributing editor Stephen Matthews takes on a new assignment with "Image Engineering," which offers a fresh look at how optoelectronics technologies are applied in real life to the acquisition, processing, and display of all types of images. The series opens this month with topographical imaging (see page 111). In the "bittersweet" department, my long-time colleague Conard Holton was recently promoted to editor-in-chief of our sister publication Vision Systems Design—we are sorry to see him move on but thankfully he will remain a contributor to Laser Focus World. Holton will provide our readers with a monthly commentary on the technologies, products, and markets affecting imaging and vision technology—see "Inside Imaging" on page 62.
Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief