Although many things change rapidly in the ultrasound industry,one quality has remained fairly constant: its competitiveness.For at least the last five years, for instance, the four leadingultrasound vendors and their respective market shares have
Although many things change rapidly in the ultrasound industry,one quality has remained fairly constant: its competitiveness.For at least the last five years, for instance, the four leadingultrasound vendors and their respective market shares have remainedsubstantially equivalent.
Ultimately, such a heated race for market leadership stimulatestechnological innovation and applications development in thisfast-growing medical imaging modality, said David M. Perozek,president and COO of ATL.
Perozek moved to ATL last month from Hewlett-Packard, the leadingsupplier of cardiac ultrasound scanners (SCAN 5/6/92). He hadserved as general manager of HP's medical products group in Andover,MA, until 1989. At that time, he was assigned to supervise theintegration into HP of that firm's newly acquired Apollo Computerworkstation business (SCAN 6/7/89).
"One of the things that is the same in the industry asit was when I left it in 1989 is that there are four dominantplayers that account for perhaps 60% to 65% of the total market,"Perozek told SCAN. "The other striking thing is that thegeneral market shares for each of these four companies are incrude terms similar. It is an equation for the most intense rivalrythat you could have in an industry."
The four leading ultrasound vendors (listed alphabetically)are Acuson, ATL, HP, and Toshiba.
Innovation and expanded clinical applications of ultrasoundhave supported strong market growth, Perozek said.
"When we at Hewlett-Packard started in the ultrasoundbusiness in the late 1970s, we didn't envision that it was goingto be almost a $2 billion (per annum) business," he said."I think part of that is due to the fact that you have veryable competitors continuously pushing each other. Everybody recognizesthat the business is technology-driven, and they drive down technologyavenues very hard. This has expanded applications and performance."
Ultrasound appears to be on the threshold of product advancespossibly as dramatic as the first generation of two-dimensionalscanners a decade ago or the introduction of color-flow Doppler,Perozek said.
"Contributions of the new architectures like (ATL's) HDI(high-definition imaging) allow things to be seen that were notseen before and this is opening up new applications. What we areseeing now is a continuous process, which is a revolution of performancethat will go on over the next few years," he said. "Allthe underpinnings of digital technology and software are ridingthe technology wave that the computer industry has provided. Thisis going to provide a basis for astounding performance gains."
At the same time, there may not be room for another companyto enter the market and charge a premium for radically improvedscanner performance, as Acuson did in 1983.
"The business at all levels is going to be price-competitive.There will not be any bastions of relief from that," Perozeksaid.
Perozek's addition to ATL's top ranks reinstates a more classicalmanagement structure, he said. Dennis C. Fill, chairman and CEOof parent Westmark International, had been serving as ATL presidentas well. Westmark shareholders vote this month on a proposal tospin off ATL sister company Spacelabs and rename Westmark as ATL(SCAN 2/26/92).
"In the recent past, they (at ATL) have operated in anoffice of the chairman configuration. Everyone here realized thatthis caused some compromises but was an effective way to managefor a time," he said.
ATL operations have been functioning smoothly, as the firmaccelerates sales of its new Ultramark 9 HDI system, he said.
"My first impression of the organization is that it iseffective and productive. One of the priorities I have is preservingmomentum, so in a sense there are no major changes in the cardsfor the short term," Perozek said.