We are designing new products specifically for local markets

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Micrel Inc is a leading manufacturer of IC solutions for the worldwide analogue, Ethernet and high bandwidth markets. The company is represented in India by Syratron Marketing. John T Lee, managing director, Asia-Pacific, Micrel Inc, speaks to Jesus Milton Rousseau S of Electronics Bazaar about the company’s plans for India

John T Lee, MD, Asia-Pacific, Mircel Inc

EB: What is your opinion about the Indian electronics market?

The electronics market in India is growing fast. In the past, India was neglected and more attention was given to China, but lately, lots of new products on par with those of Cisco and Huawei have been developed in India. Now it’s imperative that we participate in the ecosystem building that’s happening in India. The Asia-Pacific region is a very important market for us as we have two thirds of our business here. To provide better R&D support and expand our business strategically in the region, we have recently established a regional headquarters-cum-design centre in Hong Kong.

EB: Do you have any plans for a design centre in India?

Although currently we don’t have a design centre in India, we do not rule out this possibility. It is certainly on our radar.

EB: What are your marketing strategies for the Indian market?

With the setting up of our regional headquarters, we aim to plan strategically and provide more support for expansion in Asia. We will work more closely with local distributors, representatives and their field engineers and provide training to them. As the growing electronics market in India is one of our key targets, we are designing new products specifically for local markets, like power products for the telecom industry. We are also looking at applications especially for the telecom and automotive verticals. Other new areas that we are exploring include, automatic meter reading (AMR), LED, etc.

EB: Are you planning to enter the Indian market directly?

We are evaluating the option and will take that decision at the right time. We will explore the possibility of establishing a design and support centre like what we did in Hong Kong in January 2010. But we need a minimum threshold of business to start an office. Even if we open an office in India, we will continue our relationship with our local distributors. We will handle only large volumes and other orders will be handled through our valuable distributors only. We are a 32 year old company and have been profitable for 31 years. So we are conscious of the bottom line. Even through this recession, year on year, we have been growing, and we grew last year with our distributors’ support. So we will not be a threat for our local distributors.

EB: What are your latest products and what is unique about them?

Micrel operates in terms of an ‘innovative triangle’ of values that sets us apart from others. First, we have our own fab, where we fine tune the fabrication processes as per specific requirements. Second, we have our intellectual property. These two, together with our custom packaging technology, form the three corners of the value triangle. Green energy has become a trend now in the telecom sector as well.

We have one of the world’s smallest power switches, based on copper pillar technology, which can carry 2 Amps of current continuously at 4 Amps peak, and it is only 0.85 x 0.85 mm in size. Copper pillars are inside transistors and widely used in every smartphone in the world. Virtually all consumer electronics equipment need them.

We also have DC-DC converters for LTE base stations; super switch MIC 26950–26 volts, 12 Amps solutions and DC-DC converters under super switcher II family with ultra fast transient responses that use hyper speed control HSC architecture. These products are used in servers, base stations, distributed power supplies, networking infrastructure, etc.

Our wireless RF solutions are targeted at AMR requirements. Last year, the Indian government opened a new frequency band of 865 MHz to 867 MHz for mobiles, aiming at creating new markets; so we introduced RF transceiver solutions targeted at this frequency range, helping customers with reference designs, etc. In LED lighting applications, we have LED driver solutions, driving high brightness and highly efficient LED lights.

EB: What are the sectors you’re targeting in India?

We are mainly targeting telecom, lighting, automotive, AMR and the Ethernet world. In fact, we have the first qualified Ethernet products for automobiles and they are used by BMW.

EB: What are your best selling products in the Indian market?

Our products include high performance analogue, power, advanced mixed signal and radio frequency semiconductors; high speed communication, clock management, Ethernet switch and physical layer transceiver integrated circuits. These products address a wide range of rapidly growing end markets including cellular handsets, portable and enterprise computing, enterprise and home networking, wide area and metropolitan area networks and industrial equipment. Our best selling products in the Indian market include DC-DC converters, and we are one of the market leaders in telecom products.

EB: Micrel is known for its service orientation and for being ‘fast on its feet’. Please explain how do you achieve this?

We respond quickly to our customers’ changing demands and needs. For example, we designed a boost converter for the TV market in June 2008 on a specific customer’s request and introduced it to the market in December 2008. Having our own fab that does not run at full capacity enables us to cater to a sudden increase in demand, and we maintain a close relationship with our key customers to help plan ahead in terms of product demand and delivery. Also, our supply chain mechanism is well controlled and we put systems in place. The execution is taken care of and hiccups are well balanced to achieve that ‘fast on its feet’ commitment to our customers.

EB: What are your future plans for the Indian market?

We have identified several markets pertaining to India, for example, AMR, because of the government’s support in opening the frequency band. So we are able to open up and cater faster to these new market demands. We are focusing more on selective verticals like AMR under the industrial and automotive sectors. We will be vertical centric and assess opportunities in the Indian green energy and high efficiency application areas.

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