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Are questions about electronics market trends on-topic?

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I'm curious about the market trend of certain kind of components (specifically, 0603 ceramic capacitors) and if I should start worrying about these getting phased out. I started to write a question but then I realized that the question wasn't actually about electronics, but the electronics market.

The question goes:

There was a big ruckus a few years back when Murata cancelled a whole lot of their surface mount passives production (see this) and planned to phase out their 0402 and larger components, particularly ceramic caps, since these were simply not profitable to manufacture any longer. They also put all of their trim caps as end of life.

As a result of this, the market went crazy and SMD capacitor prices sky-rocketed for a while, particularly 0603 and 0805. It seems to have gone back to normal now, as other manufacturers have filled the gap.

0805 and larger already feel like they are getting phased out since a decade back or so. Obviously, the laws of physics limit how small components of a certain chemistry, with certain attributes can get. And some parts like 10uF ceramic caps were only relatively recently possible to make in 0805.

But ignoring such special cases and only looking at "mainstream" passives, should I worry about 0603 getting phased out in favour of 0402 and 0201? (When) should I start using 0402 or 0201 by default in new designs?

Would a question like this be on-topic here? I'm not sure myself: market trends isn't electrical engineering, but component choice is.

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3 answers

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I largely agree with Olin Lathrop's answer.

However, I think questions should be on-topic also if the trends have no direct technical motivations, on condition that the reasons can be backed by hard data in the context of a potential or actual design.

For example, imagine you are planning to design a tool that needs, say, an UART to interface X converter chip.

Maybe the interface X is being replaced by the new standard Xv2 (for pure marketing reasons), or the MIX999X chip you intended to use is being phased out by its manufacturer in favor of BFG888X because of a recent acquisition of "Macrochip Inc".

If these facts can be backed by hard data, such as company statements or statistics from reputable sources, then I think they should be ok, since it's all part of a sound design planning phase.

Of course the question and the relative answers should be well-written, so as to foster people to learn why and how an engineer has to cope with market forces when designing a thing.

Otherwise the answers could get too much opinionated (e.g. "I heard that Macrochip could be acquired...") and really unsuitable for this site.

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It could be OK if you are asking about technology reasons why a class of products will be phased out. Asking about forces that cause similar things in the past should be OK too, as long as the reasons can really be known.

For example, asking why transistors replaced tubes is fine since good technical reasons can be given. If it were the mid 1940s now, asking "Do you think transistors will replace tubes?" would be off topic because answers would be just speculation and opinion. However, you could ask "What advancement in transistor would be required for them to replace tubes in audio applications? What research is currently being done that might lead to such advancement?"

As for your question about larger SMD capacitors, if you ask the question so that answers can cite measurable market forces or technical issues, then it would be fine. If you ask in such a way that just encourages people to chime in with their personal opinions or to speculate, then it would be off topic.

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I think that the example question in the O.P. should be re-written as design for manufacturing question (DfM, or some other DfX). Electronics market trends questions should be off-topic. It would invite opinion-based speculation.

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