INTERVIEWS

CEO, Osram

We’ll see changes in the competitive landscape
The global lighting market is becoming more attractive and interesting for traditional and regional players as well as new players, especially coming from the electronics or semiconductor industries. However, these companies will have to build up competencies and capabilities in several fields. We’re well-positioned and are moving fast. Last year, over 20 per cent of our sales came from LED-based products.

It’s about lighting know-how
LED lighting is not just about electronics and semiconductors. It’s about know-how, and we are in a leading position in lighting for many many years. We’re building on our strengths: We have either the number one or two position in all technologies including LED. For customers we have a complete portfolio, a lighting application competence, a strong IP portfolio and a global reach. Last but not least, our global brand is the only pure lighting brand.

Research is paramount
Last year we spent 50 per cent of our research and development on LED and OLED. This year we will target 66 per cent.

We’ll acquire if it fits our strategy
As with Traxon, we don’t mind making investments and acquisitions, if it completes our portfolio.

For us, it’s about a managed transition to solid state
To make this transition happen, we are focusing on the entire value chain very aggressively, investing in research and development and partnering with our customers in projects and energy audits. We’re successful at all levels of the LED value chain and we have a comprehensive innovative portfolio for the world market. For instance, in LED components, we are number two. We are also the innovation leader in many areas like automotive and ‘architainment’.

The project route is increasingly important for us
Traxon is one channel where we do lots of projects but we also do projects together with building technologies, our sister division here in Siemens. We do also have our own projects, and many projects with our partners, our OEM and trade partners, so it’s a broad range of activities how we address the projects business. We collaborate closely with our customers so, for example, if we don’t have certain fixtures, we’ll bring in our OEM partners.

We need to learn lessons from the introduction of CFL One of the industry’s mistakes [with the introduction of CFL] was that we didn’t inform consumers sufficiently about the real savings of the products compared to incandescents. I think this time with the new technology, we will be in much better shape.

CFL is a transition technology
It’ll be around for many years, but it’s a transitional technology before LED takes over.

OLED will follow LED
OLED will follow LED by three to five years. We’re setting up the first pilot production line [for OLED] this spring. I see OLED as complementary to LED. The latter is a point source and a directional light, whereas OLED is an area source. It’s a thin and elegant light source, and has a homogenous light distribution. We still have to improve the efficiencies of course, work on the lifetimes and drastically reduce the manufacturing cost. This is part of our roadmap.

Market surveillance is crucial
We’re broadly happy with the timeline of the incandescent phase-out and the new labelling [arrangements] but we’re not so happy with the market surveillance in many countries. I would single out energy-saving halogens and LEDs in this regard. If products don’t meet the requirements, then [these manufacturers] are free riding. We need better surveillance and then enforcement.

We need to educate the consumer
Lack of information is our biggest problem with consumers. We’ve just done a survey in Germany that showed that over 50 per cent thought that the energy saving of CFL [compared to GLS] is 30 per cent when in fact it’s 80 per cent. A third either didn’t know about LED or had no opinion of them. So we’ve rolled out a major retail point- of-sale programme in 10 countries explaining halogen, CFL and LED technology to customers so they can make informed buying decisions.

If companies don’t live up to their specs it damages the technology That’s why people trust in brands. Strong brands guarantee high quality. The Zhaga initiative is helping with standardisation because this is what [customers] expect so they have more certainty in their planning.

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