5 Questions for the CEO of Philips Lighting North America


Will U.S. consumers pay somewhere between $40 to $60 for a single LED light bulb? That’s what Dutch electronics giant Philips (s PHG) will soon find out — this week at the world’s largest lighting conference Lightfair, the company launched a 12-watt LED bulb that can replace a 60-watt incandescent. Philips says its so-called “EnduraLED” light bulb can deliver 80 percent energy savings and last 25,000 hours, or 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb (see our list of 5 LEDs that can replace incandescents, as well as this cheatsheet on the metrics of the bulb).

Ed Crawford, CEO of Philips Lighting North America, tells us Philips’ bulb will likely retail around $60 and will be available in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2010. Other competitors like GE are shooting for prices closer to between $40 and $50. So why has Philips launched this bulb now and what does the company expect to face when it tries to sell it? Here’s 5 questions from an edited interview with Crawford:

Q). Why has Philips launched this bulb now — and not last year, or next year?

A). We’re introducing the 60 watt LED replacement now because we see this as a huge opportunity. There’s over 400 million incandescent bulbs in the US, and the barrier up until now has been technology. In particular the breakthrough is that our bulb can replace a 60 watt incandescent bulb, because 60-watt bulbs fill half the sockets in North America.

Q). What’s the expected retail price?

A). While we won’t be the ones setting the exact price, we believe it will retail somewhere in the $60 range — maybe more or less. Initially, but as you say with new technology the prices will come down over time. And ultimately this will save customers money.

Q). How widely available will it be? Will it be sold everywhere that incandescents are sold?

A). Our standard 60 watt incandescents are basically sold everywhere, and we’ll eventually have similarly broad distribution for the LED bulb. But we will introduce the LED bulb first into the professional channel, given they are used to the ROI (return on investment) pay back analysis. Then shortly afterwards we’ll introduce it into the retail markets for home owners and residential use.

Q). Do you think there needs to be substantial education process when it comes to buying LEDs and the return on investment?

A). To me that’s the biggest challenge: marketing and communication. It’s an interesting challenge because consumers are already looking at payback analysis in other areas, but it’s fairly new for lighting. The industry has done such a good job of marketing the incandescent that it’s hard to get rid of it. So that’s the number one challenge. Getting consumers to see that they can save money by spending more money up front and getting that back over energy savings.

Q). Is Philips looking to work with, or acquire, innovative LED startups?

A). We don’t comment on acquisitions. I think its certainly public knowledge that Philips has been active in acquisitions. Some large some small. We’ll always be looking at innovative companes, new technologies, and we have a lot of people spending a lot of time on development. Absolutely if there are patentable advancements out there we want to look at them.

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Opportunities in LED Solid-State Lighting



I have had a similar experience as Waltinseattle. I was looking for a bright 12V LED for a solar shed project last summer and for a solar/LED yard light I am making this summer. I ended up buying off the internet – 4W, 78 LEDs with an MR16 connection. The The bulbs came shipped directly from Hong Kong. I was disappointed but not really surprised by this.

I am glad the big players in the US are finally taking this seriously. With energy efficient lighting, it makes it possible to do much more with a solar energy source.


Regardless of cost or reasoning, I’ll be glad to have the option of switching. Currently the only way I can get my hands on LED is online and going to Fry’s (which isn’t to close to me.)


The Asian Tigers are already in the water. I bought a 15 water for 15 bucks at Fryes Electronic some 3 months ago, called the mfg/distributor company based here on the ‘sa;ish ‘sea. He said no direct online sales but coming soon on Amazon. Well, that’s a no can do for cardless me who uses feet and cash. But at least I can still walk into the electronic superstore, for now- depends on the strong arm at Amazon or not- exclusive rights and all that new monopoly stuff you may be very dimly aware of but can’t wrap your head around very well…

Phillips is playing coward, IMHO. The answer to “why now” was pathetic. And the bit about aquisitions was not even debatable enough to ask about —of course they want to opt out the competitors. Buyouts are often the best cheapest and most time efficient way to do so.


The LED lights market is clearly at a pre-swell stage. In fact, like with several other technologies, the fact that Philips tries to make a splash is the best indication that it is too early for the common man to get into. The costs are still high, the tech not mature yet and the concept is still not bought by the customers at large.

Wait till the end of the year and you will see the big names get more humble. Early 2011, the asian tigers will pounce on this concept. Prices will go south as volumes head north. By mid 2011, consumer acceptance will swell.

And by 2012, we will not think twice about LED lights. There are chances though that some of us may blink when we hear that Philips also makes (or used to make) such stuff. At least, until we hear that they charged a princely $60 for their old-tech LED lights.

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