RF measurements: the modular tipping point

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, describes the tipping point as “ the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”.  My latest blog post connects Gladwell’s concepts with the test industry.

Open modular standards, such as VXI, PXI, or AXIe, represent approximately 15 percent of the automation market.  That market is defined anywhere a computer is connected to a set of instruments, but excludes the semiconductor test market (for now, but watch out!).  However, look at the history.  Driven by PXI this past decade, modular systems have outgrown their traditional box counterparts by ten percentage points nearly every year.  Starting in data acquisition, modular systems have been adopted by customers in multiple industries, segment by segment, and are now knocking on the door of the industry’s largest macro segment: RF (radio frequency).

While the sizespeed, and cost of test advantages of modular instruments are the attractions to users, it is the competitive instincts of the vendors that will irrevocably “tip” this market towards modular solutions.  With blazing RF speed breakthroughs recently announced by NI and Agilent, and vendor offerings literally from A (Aeroflex) to Z (ZTEC), no vendor dares to release their hand from full throttle.  An entire new market is up for grabs, and anyone who chooses not to participate – loses.  The incentive, if anything, is to invest more.  This market is tipping.

What are the implications for the industry? Read the entire blog post here.

By Larry DJ

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