[Lighting Fair] Key Figures Discuss Future of LED, OLED Lights (page 2)

Mar 6, 2009
Satoshi Ookubo, Nikkei Electronics

If they focus on the Japanese market, their products will evolve independently from foreign markets, resulting in the lack of competitiveness in the global market. And, in the future, Japanese manufacturers could be forced to revamp their products in order to enter the global market. He is concerned that the "Galapagos Effect," which is frequently cited in relation to the Japanese mobile phone industry, might occur in the LED light industry as well.

Nakamura said that venture companies are showing their presence in LED light development in the US. Their development progress is fast, and their decision making by top management is fast too. The same can be said about Taiwan and China.

In Japan, LED lights are developed by "major manufacturers, and their speed of decision making is slow," he said. And he forecast that such foreign companies will catch up with Japanese manufacturers in terms of technological level before long.

In addition, Nakamura said that a variety of regulations are dragging down the development of LED lights in Japan.

"Free competition is impossible as long as the regulations exist," he said.

Not to be isolated from global market

Ochiai, a pioneer in the utilization of LED lights as well as organic EL lights, pointed out that the Japanese LED light industry has issues other than the Galapagos Effect.

He has many opportunities to see the progress of LED lights in foreign countries. Through those experiences, he had the impression that Japan may be ahead of other countries in terms of hardware, including parts and devices for LED and organic EL lights, but is not as active as the US and Europe in the development of applications for entertaining people.

Responding to the comment by Ochiai, Nakamura said, "It is perhaps because white LEDs are developed by a traditional Japanese maker and produced by traditional Japanese lighting equipment manufacturers."

Using LEDs, lighting devices become colorful and refined in design, and their colors and brightness can be easily controlled by computer software. Considering such innovativeness, it can be said that the culture surrounding LED lights is completely different from that of existing lights, he said.

Therefore, "Japan will be isolated from the global market" unless not only hardware but also software (expertise on usage) are prepared for LED lights, Nakamura said.

Meanwhile, Kido said that standardizations of hardware and software are important to prevent Japan from being isolated from the global market. Many experts say that it is very difficult to standardize them because LED lights have already been commercialized. On the other hand, for organic EL lights, which are expected to be commercialized soon, "Japan should take initiative in determining the standards," he said.