Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 9
The big question I would have with Flat-Panel Displays and their Gorilla potential (vs. royalty game) is how one company could ever create high switching costs, as displays are interchangeable. Now a new type of display may come along and be by far the best and capture huge market share. But what keeps the next improvement in displays from moving in?? And if they can't create high switching costs, they can't be a true Gorilla.

OnAJungleHunt,

Spot on, or "rem acu tetigisti", as my old Latin teacher never tired of saying.

I can't see a means of creating high switching costs, other than via patents, which seem to be a fairly important part of the OLED scene. Let's explore.

If memory serves me right, there is little discussion of patents in The Gorilla Game, other than obliquely via a (prescient?) reference to Rambus which "took on a gorilla position in the emerging market for next-generation memories." There is no specific reference to patents, and two fleeting but inconsequential mentions of intellectual property.

Before I start digging into the thorny question of who has which OLED patents, do Gamers here have any thoughts to offer on the subject of patents as applied to gorilla formation? Does it merit a little more attention and/or discussion?

I'm probably wrong here, but I can't think of any accepted gorillas who are purely generators / owners of intellectual property which is licenced out to OEMs. Non-software gorillas tend to be manufacturers. One reason for this could be that accepted gorillas have been around for a reasonable amount of time, and have been able to start small, think big, and grow quickly. They have experienced manageable hypergrowth.

Today more than ever, however, the world is fraught with risks for the newly-born, would-be gorilla. The opportunity is huge, never greater, as technological take-up of a must-have innovation can occur at unprecedented speeds. But that means either building massive capacity, with the associated potential for disaster in the event of miscalculation, or starting slowly and running the risks of being unable to satisfy demand, alienating customers, and possibly losing out to a more aggressive competitor.

So how about the safer, manageable approach to potentially unmanageable hypergrowth? Don't make it, just work out what to make and how and let others do the dirty work (and take capacity risks). Meanwhile, you can spend the time working on the next generation of your intellectual property, maybe even learning off all your licencees.

So - to finally get back to the point - this could be a viable path to gorillahood. Universal Display Corp (or whoever) nails it, works out how to make mobile phone displays that are clearer, lighter, thinner, less power-hungry, work with video streaming, etc etc. Everybody wants one, so UDC licences the process, lets the OEMs get on with the manufacturing process (as well as royalties) and gets on with moving on to the next step of replacing the CRT. Spend a small (relatively) fortune on marketing and letting people know that it's "UDC outside" and bingo! A gorilla is born.

Or is it? Please, you be the judge.

My (newly-formed) impression is that Rambus is doing something along these lines - and it gets an acknowledgement of gorillahood. So perhaps this is a viable model. How about ARMHY, the fast-growing British company licensing RISC chips for all sorts of new markets? A possible gorilla?

Or - just to complete the loop - how about a company (again British - sorry!) which licenses the technology (150 licensees to date) for flat-panel speakers? In fact, the display can act as the speaker. How about that for an addition to your full-colour mobile video phone? Want more? Same company has military patents in voice-recognition technology...


Apologies, all - it's turned into a rather rambling, stream of consciousness post. Let's summarise:

1) Flat-panel displays may soon be subject to a tornado, but it's hard to see how a gorilla could evolve from this due to the difficulty in creating switching costs.

2) One possible model would be for the breakthrough company to form an intellectual property company, license technological capability to OEMs, and focus on (a) marketing and (b) further development of IP. Is this a valid model for a future gorilla? If so, we could yet see one in the FPD market.

3) This model has been shown to work in the case of Rambus (frequently acknowledged as emerging gorilla) and ARMHY (status unknown). Furthermore, another British company is just starting down this path and may merit further investigation, especially as there are potentially excellent fits with the FPD market. Any interest?


I suspect I'm really reaching here, so please highlight holes and set me straight! And thanks all for the support/appreciation for the previous post - you sure know how to extend a welcome (especially brownu88 - McEwans sounds great!)

Mac
Print the post  

Announcements

What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.