The competitive market is designed in such a way that when some companies lose under certain conditions, others predictably win, and the situation with sanctions against the Chinese semiconductor industry is no exception. The Japanese company Nikon relies on selling older devices in China that are not subject to current export restrictions.
Speech as explained Nikkei Asian ReviewThis is the series of so-called i-Line steppers, which first came onto the market in the early 1990s. In lithography, a stepper is a machine responsible for exposing light through a series of photomasks onto the surface of a silicon wafer, thereby forming a pattern on the photoresist layer necessary for subsequent etching. Nikon’s i-Line family of devices is well suited for the production of power electronics, which is now in high demand in China due to the active development of the electric vehicle market. The i-Line system line can be used to produce power electronics made of silicon carbide and gallium nitride.
The i-Line series of devices, introduced more than a quarter of a century ago, is not officially subject to the current export restrictions, but Nikon will take additional measures to block the possibility of releasing more modern chips for these devices. Using a ready-made component base, Nikon plans to offer its steppers in this series at a price 20-30% lower than the price of Canon’s competitors’ solutions. Both Japanese companies were leaders in the lithography equipment market until the beginning of this century, but later the Dutch ASML managed to master the production of more complex technological solutions and practically monopolize the lithography scanner market. However, at the end of last year, ASML physically controlled 62% of the lithography equipment market, Canon 31% and Nikon had to settle for 7%.
For the current fiscal year ending in March, Nikon expects net income of $233 million, down 22% from the previous fiscal year. Turning directly to lithography equipment, Nikon’s operating profit is expected to fall 51% to $79 million. In addition to China, Nikon will also deliver corresponding devices to Japan and Taiwan. In preparation for sales growth in the Chinese market, the company has increased its local workforce by 50% compared to 2020.