ATG’s Swen Fleischer on China: the Market, the Future and CPCA


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atg_interview2.jpgFleischer: I don't know if it has something to do with the CPCA show. I think the point is that everyone everywhere deals with show budgets, and in China there are three shows in a year. There can’t be that much new equipment for every show, right? Especially since the Suzhou show and the CPCA are so close together—just two months apart.

I mean, countries normally have one show but China has three. This may be the reason why some suppliers make the decision to not participate at all exhibitions in China.

Matties: I see that there are increasingly more Chinese suppliers that have increased their abilities, their technologies, and maybe they've displaced some of the market as well?

Fleischer: Yes, but on the other hand, maybe for a lot of applications a Chinese product is good enough. Honestly, last year we were a little disappointed in the number of visitors at our booth. For the future, I will use the two or three days here to get a new impression; based on this we will decide which show we will participate in, in the future.

Matties: So it may not really be a reflection of the market, but just a reflection of too many shows.

Fleischer: In our case, yes. I don't know how it is for other companies.

Matties: If I was an owner of a circuit board shop in China, what should I be thinking of in terms of my test strategy?

Fleischer: In China, there are roughly 2,000 PCB shops, so everybody has a different strategy.  First we have to look at your product mix. What do you want to test, what are your test requirements, which end customers do you deliver to?  What do you need for data preparation, how quickly do you need to test? These things need to be analyzed first, before we recommend which equipment is perfect for you.

Matties: I hear that in America there is on-shoring occurring, with people coming back to get products built. What do you see as the impact of that on the Chinese market?

Fleischer: First of all, America is a prototype market, right? China is surely not that dedicated to prototypes. They are looking for big orders. The problem is that in China you don't get much attention for smaller lot numbers. So I don't think it's a big impact on the Chinese economy.

Matties: And which market segment do you think is the fastest growing right now in China?

Fleischer: Server boards and mobile phones are growing most because of the Internet and communication requirements. A lot of companies are investing in this segment. Apple did very well, but the low-cost Chinese mobile phones are getting a bigger and bigger portion. It's still a growing market, if you see that only 10% of the Chinese population having a mobile phone you look at an enormous internal potential in China.  

Matties: Let’s talk about India. Do you have any attention there?

Fleischer: I have personally gone to shows in India five times, so I know the India market, and I would hope they grow out. Unfortunately, up to now we haven’t seen it. I think they have a lot of infrastructure problems in India that have to be solved first before the industry really moves there. We sell maybe two or three machines a year to India; it’s a limited market for us.

Matties: Do you see printed electronics growing fast in China?

Fleischer: This is also a nice question. I had some contact with a company, five or six years ago, they were mainly concentrated on organic electronic testing. The problem with this market was,  every five years it’s announcing that it's coming. But I'm still waiting.

Matties: Well, good. Thank you, Swen. I enjoyed this conversation on a variety of topics.

Fleischer: Thank you. I did as well.

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