So Who Is To Blame?
We can't put all the blame on lighting manufacturers who making low-cost assembly processes and dance around the edges of IP breach. The root cause of a sluggish industry can actually be attributed to the industry's difficulty in adapting to drastic technological changes. The traditional global dominance provided by large corporations was established in a market where there were changes in technology and application requirements. Interest groups, supported or influenced by a handful of leading companies, have established a monopoly on industrial policies, market access standards and technical requirements. Over the past few decades, the market has been freed from the monopoly of these companies. Lamps and fixtures used to be low value-added products. Still, the industry's giants were able to consistently get a good margin from such simple, low-tech products because the competition among the limited number of players was fairly bland.
LED technology, which changed the rules of the game, disrupted the competitive balance maintained by traditional industry giants. From the height of barriers to entry, we can predict the most important determinant of industry competition and industry profitability. When capital-intensive investment is no longer a requirement, technically simple lighting products naturally become starter products for novice manufacturers. In fact, the current turbulence in the lighting market can be partially attributed to the traditional industry giants and the interest groups that represent them. The low product standards they set for fluorescent lamps have far-reaching effects on LED lighting. Under their immense influence, regulatory authorities have turned a blind eye to the high flicker, poor color rendering, and biodegrading radiation of fluorescent lighting, which is never a problem with incandescent lighting. The transition from incandescent and halogen lamps to fluorescent lamps marked a major deterioration in light quality in the history of interior lighting.
While low barriers to entry have brought fierce competition in the LED lighting industry, the flawed, low-standard measurement system inherited from fluorescent lighting has put the industry in a particularly vicious circle. Legacy product standards can be easily met and tampered with, allowing LED lighting manufacturers to produce cheap, crappy products with minimal production costs. When LED technology took over the industry, industry giants and interest groups lifted a rock and dropped it on their feet. What triggers their exit from the sector with panic is their inability to control the situation. LEDs perform significantly differently from all legacy light sources and it has been a while since LEDs have become the light source of choice for general lighting applications. However, a standard measurement system has not been established to evaluate the product performance and light quality of LED lamps and fixtures. Market officials and industry bodies seem to have lost momentum to oversee the industry.