With Intel leaving WSTS, and other companies likely to follow, then, without reliable sales statistics, estimates of semiconductor market size and estimates of product markets will be guesswork.
“It will be pure conjecture,” says Malcolm Penn, CEO of analysts Future Horizons, “everything will be built on guesswork.”
Does that matter? “No one will have any visibility into other peoples’ markets,” replies Penn, “everyone will be flying blind – like they did 20/30 years ago. That’s why they started WSTS in the first place.”
WSTS data has been getting flakier with multi-billion revisions of earlier market figures becoming more frequent. However that is probably not the reason Intel is pulling out.
The most likely reason is to hide industry fundamentals from the financial community.
This is an on-going process: a couple of years ago the SIA stopped publishing the industry’s book-to-bill ratio; the ITRS has stopped the practice of using the measure of a gate length to define a node – nowadays ‘28nm’ does not mean the gate length is 28nm – it is merely a descriptor of a class of node; last year TSMC pulled out of SICAS – the fab utilisation statistics.
Obscuring these industry fundamental makes it more difficult for the financial community to measure companies’ current and future performance.
Intel, with 80% of the PC processor market and little other market exposure, knows what is going on in the 80% of the market it controls and has a pretty good idea of what’s happening in the 20% it doesn’t.
So why should it give its own sales figures to an outside body?