Over the last year I've been filling in a vast spreadsheet for the Laser Focus market survey and for our industrial laser forecast. It's a lot of work, but I'm able to refine it a little at a time. One of the things that I was able to find out was the amount of consolidation in the industrial laser market. (By industrial lasers we mostly include everything but diode lasers for communications and DVDs.)
What I found is that the top 10 industrial laser suppliers get about 86% of the revenues. These are companies like Coherent, TRUMPF, Rofin-Sinar, Cymer, and so on The next 10 get about 10% of the revenues. And all those dozens of little companies you see at Photonics West and Laser Munich? They make less than 4%.
(By the way, I tried as much as possible to strip out everythng but the laser revenues. And, the exact share varies a little depending on different definitions that I need to apply. But the basic ratio doesn't seem to change much.)
Many of the little companies do quite nicely, though, or at least they do in normal times. They may supply into close partners, like military contractors, or they sell other products or get some system revenues. Some operate very lean.
I make that point because I don't assume that just because they are small that they are necessarily more vulnerable. Certainly the recession will upset things. But consolidation is a lot more complicated than that. The laser market is probably too fragmented to lump together like this.
But that's for a future installment.