Simple, commonplace linear products aren't the exciting, hot commodity items that set a design apart. But for engineers who need these mundane analog parts, Texas Instruments believes a broadened product menu and beefed up design support are the right recipe.
"Commodity products are like salt and pepper. You need them, but you don't want to think too much about them," says Jan Papa, worldwide marketing director of TI's Standard Linear and Logic Products group (http://rbi.ims.ca/3852-535).
That strategy fueled growth of about 25 percent last year, when about 40 new products and a number of application engineers were added to TI's offerings. Papa is leveraging TI's well-known manufacturing capabilities, supporting a broad product line with enough design assistance so engineers wouldn't have to think twice about which linear supplier they wanted to deal with.
"It's a tricky business, to have second-source products that are nearly identical, except for the processes. You need additional design support," Papa says.
This year, another 60 new op amps, regulators, and other linear products will be added to TI's portfolio of commodity products, currently standing at 2,160 standard linear products.
That broad line is a key factor separating the company from its smaller competitors. "When you count the number of new products, you have to add up the introductions of our next three competitors to get the number of parts we came out with last year," Papa says. Coupled with TI's high-volume manufacturing, that helps spread expenses out to keep costs down, he adds.
Once design engineers figure out which commodity products work for a given solution, they often want to use the same components again and again. TI responds by making products with very long manufacturing lifetimes. "We didn't obsolete any products last year and it doesn't seem we will this year," Papa says.