Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
French Wireless Chauvinism
There are few sights so magnifique as French chauvinism in full flight.
One French engineer is as good as ten Swedish engineers opines the French union UNSA - “Les projects leaders mettent . . . .un ingénieur à Sophia ou au Mans, lorsqu’il en faut 10 à Lund.”
One can imagine a snooty Frenchie looking down his nose at a wretched Swede as he pronounces this verdict.
UNSA goes on to say that, in Sweden, the best engineers work at Ericsson, the less good work at Sony Ericsson and the even less good work at the former Ericsson Mobile Products (EMP) – “Les très bons vont chez Ericsson, les moins bons chez Sony-Ericsson et les encores moins bons chez EMP.”
“Even Sony-Ericsson had chosen not to select 3G platforms (and more) of EMP in favour of direct competitors such as Qualcomm,” comments UNSA.
UNSA has been bemoaning the state of ST-Ericsson the joint venture which combined NXP’s wireless operation with the wireless activities of STMicroelectronics and Ericsson’s wireless activities contained in EMP.
UNSA puts the split leadership of ST-Ericsson – between Ericsson and STMicroelectronics – as the reason why ego problems and other disagreements stopped the three-way merger from working properly leading to a series of catastrophic dscisions – “une succession de décisions catastrophiques” – which have led to it piling up debt at a rate of $200 million a quarter – $700 million last year and another, possible $800 million this year.
An ST-E re-vamp, masterminded by the former cost-conscious CFO of STMicroelectronics, Carlo Ferro, is anticipated shortly. However UNSA wants to pre-empt a bloodbath.
“Is there really any other decision than to invest heavily to make up for past mistakes?” asks UNSA, adding “we have never seen a seriously injured champion return to the top level of international competition by deciding to cut off a leg! ST-Ericsson has a real chance of success if it is given the means.”
UNSA looks at various alternatives – sale, partnership with the likes of TI, Nvidia, Apple, Intel, Broadcom or Samsung, an outright transfer of the jv to ST which would unify the leadership or massive further state investment.
UNSA declares that, despite the fact that the French government Euros 695 million in STMicroelectronics last year, it should be investing more this year to cope with the situation at ST-Ericsson.
Finally UNSA comments: “The employees of ST-Ericsson have become big fans of the cartoon character, Dilbert, which traces very well the absurdities they face every day.”Tags: carlo ferro, chauvinism, french union, stmicroelectronics, vamp