農業化的半導體產業

本期經濟學人花了不少的篇幅,談論到全球的半導體產業。

該篇文章的作者認為:被多數國家視為先進科技象徵的半導體產業,其實本質上越來越像人類最古老的一個傳統產業 — 農業。

這個比喻我覺得十分恰當且精采絕倫:

…However, the industry’s own economics are also to blame. Even without the world’s wider troubles, these would have caused problems. In explaining how, Dan Hutcheson, chief executive of VLSI Research, a consultancy, likens semiconductor manufacturing to a different industry: farming. Investment decisions have to be made long before products can be sold. Chip farmers have to spend billions and wait years before they can start etching circuits onto “wafers”, those thin disks of semiconductor material, the size of pizzas, which are sliced into hundreds of chips at the end of the production process.

This goes a long way towards explaining why chipmakers, like farmers, have a tendency to oversupply the market, particularly if they sell memory chips, an undifferentiated product (like winter wheat). Even if prices fall below costs, they have an interest in keeping their fabs humming, in order not to lose their heavy upfront investment and to recover the variable costs. What is more, they are caught on a “technology treadmill”, in the words of Mr Hutcheson. Competition forces them always to employ the latest technology, which both increases output and puts pressure on prices.

Finally, just as in agriculture, governments further fuel this innate tendency to oversupply. In prestige, national security, industrial policy or just a desire to create jobs, politicians have always found a reason to support their semiconductor industries, mostly with cash. Silicon Saxony, for instance, has received more than €1.5 billion (nearly $2 billion at today’s exchange rate) from the state of Saxony alone, much of it to coax AMD into investing. …

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微軟併購Yahoo雖破局,但談成又如何?

這場戲演的也是夠久了…

從1月的最後一天,微軟的Steve Ballmer提出446億美金併購價,一路加碼到475億美金。

一場「霸王作態硬上弓,欲拒還迎耍手段」的戲碼就這樣歹戲拖棚近半年。
這只是檯面上的,相信檯面下兩邊陣營各自的股東、董事等利害關係人,又有一齣又一齣精采絕倫的勾心鬥角在暗處中進行。
最起碼,微軟與Yahoo的股價都在這陣子有所表態,相當程度地反應了各種立場的股民的不同預期心理。

其實整段故事說穿了,就是Yahoo決心專形成一家「媒體公司」,從而無意間放走Google,結束與Google合作關係之後,才恍然大悟自己是把一個會生金雞蛋的商業模式往門外推了。

從此以後,曾經風光一時,標榜者年輕、活力、有創意的Yahoo,開始其苦命追趕Google的悲慘歲月。

過去媒體寵兒的形象不再、過去習慣的聚光燈也不再。有的只是市場分析師對其好不容易買進來卻沒啥用的搜尋廣告公司 — Overture冷眼與訕笑。後來又另起爐灶的【Panama】計畫,目前看來也沒多大成效。

原本自己頗為瞧不起的新興網路公司,現在卻比他更年輕、更有活力、甚至更有創意!當然,財務表現也更為耀眼有實力的多。

另一方面呢?

微軟表現又如何?

我們先看看三方陣營「來自營運的現金流」:

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