I am now sat in San Antonio airport awaiting my flight back the the UK after the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF). I haven't attended the event for the last couple of years, so it was interesting for me to compare the way Freescale presented itself this week to the Freescale that I remembered being presented in the past. Here are a few of my personal thoughts and impressions:
- A more rounded focus. At previous FTFs that I haved attended, I have received the impression that Freescale was a processor company with a few other bits and pieces. The overall impression this year was, to me, more rounded, with the analog side of Freescale's product portfolio getting a much more prominent billing. The tie-up with Fuji for IGBTs was also mentioned multiple times across a number of briefings with different executives. I saw a shift towards presenting solutions rather than products.
- Renewed focus on market share. Freescale was the #1 automotive semiconductor vendor. Our semiconductor vendor market share report gave them a leading 10.3% share in calendar year 2007. In 2011 that had fallen to 7.9% - behind not only Renesas, but also Infineon and ST. In some of my previous discussions on this topic with Freescale, the conversation seemed to gravitate towards the reasons why: currency effects, the travails of large OEM customers, some gaps in product portfolio etc. This time around there seemed a greater willingness to engage in what they were going to do about it. There's a real hunger to be technology leaders, and a stated willingness to look at more deals like the Fuji one where they make sense.
- Optimism about Japan. I kept hearing, in many cases unbidden, a sense that Freescale was hoping for big things in Japan. One stated reason was that they had received feedback from some customers that Renesas was in some senses now too big and too dominant - and there was thus an increased willingess to look beyond traditional partners.
- SafeAssure everywhere. Freescale's efforts in the area of functional safety and ISO 26262 were very prominent. I was interested when I was corrected for referring to Safe Assure as a "brand" - with the Freescale staff member insisting it was instead a "program". Semantics maybe - but he was very keen to get across his message that there was real substance behind the logo, that it was far more than marketing.
It's really too soon to gauge any impact that new CEO Gregg Lowe has had: he's only been in the job a matter of weeks. However, the focus on market share came right from him, right from the top. We'll see!