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a larger, three-way venture. It was decided to focus on the deal with Panasonic in order to keep the negotiations simple and tractable but the possibility is still out there, said Ellwanger. In conclusion So will Tower be getting more Japanese legacy wafer fabs? “Maybe we will and maybe we won’t. But that’s where there is opportunity: a system company that doesn’t see semiconductors as part of their core value,” said Ellwanger. Whether deals in China or Japan materialize or not, Ellwanger is expecting in the fourth quarter of 2015 Tower will be on an annual run rate of $1 billion in revenue, $250 million EBITDA and $220 million cash flow from operations and with about $60 million of debt. Which should set Tower up nicely for the next ten years. China Wonders: whither wearable wares? By Junko Yoshida Surveys indicate that 45.7 percent of consumers stop using their wearable devices within a month. In six months, that number swells to almost 99 percent. The sobering stats that show how quickly wearables pass into oblivion comes from a survey by Tencent, China’s popular Internet service portal. They illustrate the dilemma of the wearable market in China — which designs, produces and consumes a majority of the world’s wearable devices. Many Chinese system and IC designers are keenly aware that they’ve got to rethink this whole thing if they want a viable future for wearable electronics. Chinese vendors see the nascent wearable market, despite its uncertainties, as their chance to seize the initiative, compared to their catch-up/copycat status in smartphones. A group of Chinese technophiles involved in wearables gathered at the Songshan Lake Forum, an invitation-only event sponsored mainly by China Semiconductor Industry Association, Dongguan Songshan Lake IC Design Service Center and VeriSilicon. Some 20 executives from China fabless companies came, including Rockchip, Memsensing and Leadcore. Also present were a VeriSilicon CEO holding a microphone at the far right moderates the panel. (Source: VeriSilicon) dozen systems companies ranging from wearable-device startups to established firms like TCL and Huawei, and a half-dozen prominent industry analysts and observers. Moderater Wayne Dai, CEO of VeriSilicon, used Socratic method to lead the conversation. An industry panel representing a cross section of the audience debated heatedly on smartwatches, wearable wristbands and smart-home technologies. Their discussions covered usage models, market obstacles, and lessons they learned from first-generation wearable devices. Audience members participated in real time, voting via the WeChat app. Apple Watch vs. Huawei Watch In China, the two different shapes of smartwatches are designed by Apple and Huawei. Dai’s first question was: Does the shape of the smartwatch matter —round, square, whatever? Among 41 in the room, 22 people responded that shape doesn’t matter. Fifteen preferred a round face, and four were squares. As simple as it seemed, that question triggered a more complex discussion. Panelists observed that elder users, who tend to see a smartwatch as a timepiece, prefer a round face. Younger users whose smartwatches serve more as a device, go for square. Panelist James Xiong, CEO of 3Wearable Technology Co. (Shenzhen), said that all different shapes are possible but the watch “needs to be thin.” The question about shape isn’t exactly so simple, explained Dai, when you consider that of 3,000 apps available on the Apple Watch, only 20 are unique to the Apple Watch. The majority of apps on the Watch serve as assistants to an iPhone. The wearable industry is split on this very dichotomy. One school believes the smartwatch will remain a smartphone accessory, displaying messages or functions as reminders for the user. The other school says it’s going to be a standalone watch whose key purpose lies in collecting data. “Whether legal or illegal, data-mining based on the standard will become the most important factor,” said Abraham Zhang, now a retired former vice president of Huawei serving as an industry consultant. Where you stand on this issue could determine the shape of a smartwatch, the panel concluded. Smartwatch can’t be just a toy Among four key technologies — sensors, wireless, power consumption and user interface — which poses the biggest bottleneck in the way of smartwatch success, Dai asked the panel. Alice Sun, analyst at Global Sources (the publisher of EE Times China), said that the sensor is the culprit that relegates the smartwatch to its current perception as “just a toy.” Lack of accuracy in the current generation of sensors make the col- www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2015 17


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