Strategies in Light celebrates 20th anniversary (MAGAZINE)

Nov. 27, 2018
Conference co-chair Bob Steele observes how LED market forces have influenced the evolution of the Strategies in Light conference.

Conference co-chair BOB STEELE observes how LED market forces have influenced the evolution of the Strategies in Light conference.

Strategies in Light 2019 will be held on Feb. 27–Mar. 1 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. This will mark the 20th anniversary of the conference since it debuted in Burlingame, CA in February 2000. Until that time, there were no conferences that addressed the markets, applications, and technology involving LEDs. The first gathering attracted 250 attendees from both the supply side and the end-user side of the LED industry. There was a single track and no exhibitors during the first year’s event. Since then, both the conference and the industry it serves have changed in remarkable ways.

By 2000, the LED industry had already experienced astounding growth (61% per year from 1995–1999) following the development of high-brightness (HB) red-orange-yellow InGaAlP (indium gallium aluminum phosphide) LEDs in the early 1990s and HB blue and green InGaN (indium gallium nitride) LEDs in the mid-1990s.

In 1999, the worldwide market for HB LEDs was $820M (million). In 2018, the LED market is estimated by Strategies Unlimited to be $15.8B (billion), greater by nearly a factor of 20. Growth has been driven by rapidly decreasing prices, accompanied by dramatically increased performance measured in luminous efficacy (lm/W). Innovations in various applications, such as backlights for mobile and stationary LED displays, exterior and interior automotive lighting, and general lighting, have further driven market growth.

In 2000, outdoor signs and automotive lighting were the largest applications for HB LEDs. Lighting was hardly a factor at the time. Mobile phone display and keypad backlights were the main market drivers in the years that followed. As the mobile phone market began to saturate, the next LED growth sector became backlighting for LCDs used in monitors and TVs. The adoption of LEDs in this display application was so successful and rapid that the market grew by 108% between 2009 and 2010. Due to the penetration of LED backlights in LCDs and the rapidly decreasing prices of LEDs, this market saw saturation by 2011–12.

The adoption of white LEDs in the general lighting market began in earnest in 2009. At LightFair, nearly every booth showed some kind of lighting product that incorporated white LEDs — a quantum leap from the previous year, when very few exhibitors displayed such products.

As predicted by Haitz’s Law, phosphor-converted white LEDs had finally achieved the price and performance levels that made them desirable as light sources for luminaires and lamps relative to legacy sources. In particular, the high luminous efficacy (100+ lm/W) and long lifetimes of white LEDs allowed the higher prices of LED lighting products relative to legacy products to be paid back in 2–3 years via reduced electricity costs and increased maintenance savings.

Many LED applications remain important. However, lighting has become the dominant application, accounting for 35% of the LED market by revenue in 2017.

Just as the market for LEDs has evolved over the past 20 years, so has Strategies in Light. The single-track format in the early days of the conference grew into two tracks: HB LED Markets and LED Lighting. A third track focused on manufacturing was later added. In 2015, The LED Show became co-located with Strategies in Light. By that time, as lighting had begun to dominate the advances in technology, the structure of the conference changed completely, with the entire agenda devoted to lighting in four parallel tracks: Technology, Market and Applications, Connected Lighting, and The LED Show.

For Strategies in Light 2019, the format has changed once again — four tracks remain but with The LED Show content absorbed completely and no longer structured as a separate event within the conference. These four tracks are:

  • Moving the Lighting Market Forward: Where We Are; Where We Are Going
  • Advances in LED Lighting Technology, Design and Manufacturing
  • Connected Lighting and the IoT
  • State of the Industry

Informative, interactive workshops and the Investor Forum will be held on the day preceding the main conference sessions. More than 200 companies are expected to exhibit during the accompanying trade show.

Strategies in Light has changed in many ways over the past 20 years, reflecting the LED market forces that drive the business we represent but always emphasizing excellence in the program, bringing together expert speakers from the solid-state lighting industry and high-quality exhibitors throughout the LED supply chain. We will strive to maintain this quality for many years to come.

BOB STEELE is conference co-chair for Strategies in Light.

*An extended version of this Strategies in Light anniversary article was published in October 2018.

About the Author

Robert V. Steele | Consultant, LED Practice, Strategies Unlimited

Dr. Robert V. Steele is a consultant to Strategies Unlimited. He retired in March 2010 as the director of the LED Practice at Strategies Unlimited, where he had been responsible for all of the company’s activities in the area of LED market research and consulting since 1994. From 2000 to 2011, Steele was the chair of Strategies in Light in the US, and also chaired Strategies in Light conferences in Japan and China. He is currently the co-chair of Strategies in Light in the US. He has written regularly for industry publications on LED markets and applications, including LEDs Magazine, and has given invited presentations at major conferences around the world. Steele received his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California – Berkeley, and a BS in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).