Gray Matters

Counterfeit or gray market parts and the problems they incur have been a hot topic for well over a year, and we’ve talked both about the problem and various attempts at resolution on several occasions (click here and here for links). I’m glad to see some others are taking the proverbial bull by the horns and educating the industry on the extent of the problem and potential solutions.

Today in its newsletter, my friends at Design Chain Associates offer a terrific summary of both. One nit: a group of blue-chip OEMs called the Alliance for Gray Markets and Counterfeit Abatement estimates electronics manufacturers are losing more than $100 billion due to fake parts — a sum that incredibly “does not take into account money spent on reworking, recalling and warranty support.”

I don’t doubt the issue is big, but $100 billion big? Hogwash! That’s the combined revenues of Foxconn plus Flextronics plus Sanmina-SCI plus Celestica plus Jabil.

Also in the wings: The Electronics Resellers Association, which is organizing a conference featuring several sessions on the problem for late Spring 2008.

It’s good to see the issue getting the attention it deserves.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow