Telling it like it is

Jan. 1, 2003
"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." So said the Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr . . .

"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." So said the Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr . . . and while he was probably not discussing predictions about the optoelectronics marketplace his comment does highlight the pitfalls inherent in making any type of forecast. Present-day market analysts suffered a significant loss of face during the bursting of the so-called "telecom bubble," when the market collapsed faster and more drastically than almost anyone had thought possible. And while, in the view of many, these same analysts have yet to reestablish their credibility, such is the nature of the human psyche that already they are being asked again to predict the future—in this case, to tell us when the telecom market will bounce back.

Many of our own readers are well aware that the overall market predictions Laser Focus World made last year were off base, but like the market analysts we are still constantly being asked about the conclusions reached in the new 2003 review and forecast of the laser marketplace. The good news is that we expect overall market revenues will gain 12% in 2003 after a 24% drop in 2002. Although the absolute numbers are easy to challenge, we are reasonably confident based on many interviews that, while the optoelectronics markets unrelated to optical communications may have faltered during 2002, they are in fact fundamentally stable with an outlook that varies from moderate to strong growth for this coming year. But the devil is in the details and you can find them on page 73.

As editors, we are expected to make another type of prediction: we must forecast what our readers want to see in Laser Focus World. And as with the market forecast, we make informed decisions about the content of each issue by surveying and interviewing many of the key players in the field, while monitoring the world of optoelectronics. With this in mind, we begin two new series this month. Nonlinear optical phenomena have revolutionized how we interact with light and are the foundation of many optoelectronic systems—so these phenomena and their applications are the subject of the "Back to Basics" series, which returns for another year on page 119. Our emphasis on the importance of applied optoelectronics continues with a new applications series that starts on page 107 with a look at microendoscopy. Meanwhile, we will continue to make those difficult predictions. Happy New Year!

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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