What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

The Semiconductor Industry Patent Scorecard

March 15, 2007, 9:17 AM

Semiconductors_patent_scorecard Every now and then, the Wall Street Journal features results from The Patent Board, which has developed more than 50 indicators that track global patent activity relating to companies' innovation, technology, and science strengths. Earlier in the week, the Wall Street Journal took a closer look at the semiconductor industry by profiling two leading innovators, Intel and Micron (see above graphic), and publishing a wealth of data about innovation performance within the semiconductor industry.

In terms of innovation cycle time and stock market performance, Intel appears to be out-competing Micron. However, when it comes to research intensity, Micron appears to be doing a better job of building on its core science capabilities. In another graphic (not included), Patent Board ranked the Top 10 semiconductor companies in terms of their technology strength, a factor that blends together qualities such as science strength, innovation cycle time and research intensity into an overall indication of the "scale, quality, impact and nearness to core science of a company's patent-based intellectual property":

  1. Intel
  2. Micron
  3. Broadcom
  4. IBM
  5. Texas Instruments
  6. Samsung
  7. Hitachi
  8. Toshiba
  9. Semiconductor Energy Lab
  10. AMD

So far so good. Intel and Micron both score high in various categories and appear to be the innovation leaders. However, if you're like me, you'll probably find all these statistics a bit hard to decipher. First of all, the idea of linking "patent activity" to "innovation" is not always the most productive approach. The most innovative companies are not necessarily the ones with the biggest patent portfolios, as Booz Allen Hamilton has shown over and over again. Second of all, it seems like these "innovation rankings" fall apart when it comes to measuring stock market performance. (And these statistics were found in the "Money & Investing" section of the newspaper, so it's a safe bet that investors will use them to make stock picks)

A naive investor, I suppose, would assume that the "most innovative" semiconductor companies are those that would turn in the best stock market performance. After all, these "innovative" companies keep coming up with cool new patents, which lead to cool new products, which lead to more revenue and increased cash flow. (QED!) However, that's not the case, as is seen in the final graphic provided by Patent Board.

Intel, the anointed innovation leader when it comes to patent-based IP, actually has a stock price that has fallen by 1.3% over the past 52 weeks. Micron, the #2 pick, has fared even worse: its stock price has fallen by 22.9% over the past year. In contrast, companies further down the patent pecking order, like Infineon (+59.3%), FormFactor (+24.6%) and Taiwan Semi (+24.6%), have turned in stellar performance.

At which point, of course, I throw my hands up, sell off my Intel position, say goodbye to AMD, and decide to invest in some high-growth, high-risk Taiwanese semiconductor plays.

[graphic: The Patent Board in the Wall Street Journal]


The Semiconductor Industry ...

Newsletter: Share: