Strong Program Characterizes SID 2006 Business Conference

by Jessica Quandt

Time magazine founder Henry R. Luce once said, "Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight."

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the business of electronic information displays, where industry executives every day face the huge responsibility of keeping up with constantly changing technologies and customer demands. Four years ago, the organizers of the Society for Information Display's (SID) annual International Symposium, Seminar & Exhibition responded to this need by launching an annual Business Conference to help display professionals navigate the business side of the display industry.

This year marks the fourth installment of the Business Conference, and it has become a vital segment of SID's signature event. The 2006 Business Conference will take place Monday, June 5 and Tuesday, June 6 at San Francisco's Moscone Center and will consist of a fresh, densely packed program of top industry executives presenting on topics ranging from market analyses and overviews to outlooks for individual and novel technologies. And although several speakers are returning from last year's event, Conference Chair Aris Silzars points out that all presentations in the dynamic program will be up-to-the-minute.

"They're repeat speakers because they did an outstanding job last year. They're people who always bring the latest information about what's happening out in the marketplace," Silzars explained. "The point is that the display industry is changing very, very rapidly … so having updates on how the market is doing has great value in itself. But in addition to that, we're trying to bring in new speakers and new perspectives and striving to feature a cross section of the display industry. So it should be of high interest to past attendees as well as new ones."

Since it represents the largest sector of the display industry, the flat-panel-display (FPD) market, specifically televisions, will be the subject of the lion's share of the presentations at the 2006 Business Conference, including the opening speech by Bob O'Donnell, Vice President of Clients and Displays at International Display Corp. His talk, entitled "Beyond the Silver Box: Overcoming Commoditization," will address how to make flat-panel TVs stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The sales and pricing of FPDs will be the subject of several talks. DisplaySearch President Ross Young will discuss the group's outlook for the FPD and TV market. Sweta Dash, Director of Liquid-Crystal Display (LCD) and Projection Research at iSuppli Corp., will report on the impact of price erosion in the flat-panel TV market. Peter Kwon, President of Display Bank, will examine the growing competitiveness in the large-screen flat-panel TV market. Leslie G. Polgar, CEO of Forth Dimension Displays, Ltd.(formerly CRLO Displays, Ltd.) will talk about the benefits, limitations, and requisite investments of various technologies in large television displays.

Other presentations will center on specific technologies within the FPD realm. There will be two talks directly addressing the liquid-crystal-display (LCD) market: Samsung Americas Region LCD Business Vice President Joe Virginia will examine the market forces that are shaping today's LCD technology developments for notebook PCs, monitors, and high-definition-TV (HDTV) applications; andCorning Incorporated Division Vice President and Director of Commercial Technology Peter Bocko will speak about LCD substrates for large-screen LCDs. Enuclia Semiconductor President and CEO Bruce Berkoff will draw attention to emerging electronics trends for HDTV. And Jim Palumbo, of the newly formed Plasma Display Coalition, will highlight the benefits of plasma technology in the marketplace of both today and tomorrow.

Palumbo, a former senior executive at Sony and Aiwa, said the Business Conference provides a great venue not only to promote plasma-TV technology as a whole but also to highlight the growing business opportunities behind it.

"What is important for all to realize is plasma devices have become a significant part of the dollar growth of all retailers," Palumbo said. "This is a new TV industry with tremendous opportunity, and plasma will continue to play a significant role in its growth."

But the Business Conference program goes far beyond focusing solely on FPDs. Giovanni Montesanti, Senior Director of Global Strategy, Marketing and Communications for Philips Semiconductor, will discuss market trends and drivers in mobile displays.Peter Le Masurier, Global Market Development Manager of Displays at Eastman Chemical Ltd.'s Shanghai office, will analyze the present and future of the optical films business, with specific focus on plastics. Bill Feehery, President of OLED Business for DuPont Displays, Inc., will talk about alternative solution-processing methods for OLED displays. And Mike Buckley, Director of Strategic Investments for Intel Capital, will describe Intel Corp.'s new Viiv technology for digital entertainment as well as Intel Capital's investment efforts behind it.

"This year, for the first time, I had people calling me and offering to speak, whereas before we had to go out and get them," Silzars explained. "The SID Business Conference is definitely becoming more well-known, and the fact is it is actually becoming somewhat competitive."

Such interest is one reason why Silzars believes the 2006 Business Conference will be the best-attended in the event's four-year history, adding that its location in the technology hub of the San Francisco Bay Area and the roster of cream-of-the-crop presenters could help push attendance past the 1000 mark.

Those who do attend will enjoy two special discussions in addition to the traditional program. On Monday, June 5, during the sit-down luncheon for conference attendees, Mary Lou Jepsen, Chief Technology Officer of the One Laptop Per Child Nonprofit Association, will discuss the organization's goal of seeing $100 laptops manufactured using $35 displays and delivered to children in developing countries.

"That will be interesting because that could have a major impact on what kinds of displays are made," Silzars explained. "We're talking about billions of these computers, so somebody's going to have to make billions of displays."

The conference will wrap up Tuesday afternoon with what promises to be a lively debate over one of the display industry's hottest topics. The discussion, entitled "And the Winner Is …," will feature SID President and former Plasmaco President and CEO Larry Weber and Samsung Electronics LCD Business Vice President Brian Berkeley, who will argue the merits of LCD and plasma TVs in an attempt to settle the ongoing debate over which should rule the marketplace.

Silzars, who will moderate the debate, said other technologies such as projection and OLED displays will probably be included in the discussion, but expects LCD and plasma to be the dominant topics.

"The intent is to stimulate this discussion among the display community as to whether there are multiple winners. Is there going to be one winning technology? Is there any way to even predict? What are the market dynamics? What appeals to the consumers? Are the consumers going to be able to distinguish between LCD and plasma? Or are they just going to buy something that looks wonderful?" Silzars said. "It's some of those things that I want to bring up, and in some cases we won't have answers. But at least we can bring up the issues and try to place importance around certain performance parameters …. There's great interest in this obviously – there are billions of dollars of investment going in based on people who might get the right answer."

And in the end, "getting the right answer" is the exact goal of the 2006 Business Conference. There is no crystal ball to show the future of the market or the decisions executives will be faced with, but the SID Business Conference will strive to be the next best thing.

For more information on the Business Conference or any element of SID 2006, visit •

Jessica Quandt is the Editorial Associate for Information Display magazine.