Of the top 101 components, LEDs, power sources, and connectors sizzle while motors and motion control products continue to chill.

“How do I submit a nomination for the top spot on your Top 101 Components list?” the desperate e-mail from one component creator decries. Another phone message from an eager PR person queries, “How do we vote for Component of the Year?”

Urgent text messages, phone calls, letters, and notes attached to radishes the size of pearls all have demanded the means and methods of getting a favorite product positioned in our Top 101 Components. But components only land our list if our readers put them there.

Yes, it’s that time again when we reveal which components from our Products of the Week e-mail newsletter drew the most curiosity and interest over the past year. Essentially, the components that garnered the most clicks made it onto the list.

It’s important to realize that this is not a qualitative analysis. Products that drew a lot of interest and scored higher than others in the same category aren’t necessarily superior in performance or any other measurable parameter.

For example, one USB connector drew more views than an HDMI connector. Both devices are interconnects. However, the results merely show that more readers needed a USB connector for their designs than the HDMI component.

The Big Picture

Obviously, components are critical to almost every design imaginable. Whereas semiconductors are becoming more integrated, so much so that a lot of discrete semiconductors are becoming unnecessary, components are still maintaining a level singularity—quite discrete, if you will. Therefore, even within a single category of component, one has somewhat more choices.

There was positive action in each component category this year, but some categories seem to be losing steam in the market, or better put, losing more steam. The categories included interconects (19%), power sources (17%), sensors & transducers (16%), passive components (14%), displays, indicators, and LEDs (13%), cabinets & enclosures (4%), motors & motion control (4%), timing devices (2%), materials (2%), and cooling products (1%).

What’s Hot?

Connectors, power sources, sensors, passive components, and displays—especially LEDs—were the hot products over the past year. The most logical explanation here is that alternative lighting, a.k.a., solid-state lighting (SSL), is quite the rage now, particularly due to environmentalist rallying and forthcoming legislation that will eliminate incandescent bulbs from the market.

Power sources really need no explanation, since they’re required in all electronic products. Ditto for the interconnects, passive components, and sensors. One minor note, though. Although interconnects and power sources topped the list, most of the components in the top 10 are LEDs. Perhaps it’s a further testament to the popularity of these “enlightening” components. perhaps?

What’s Cooling Down?

As time goes on, motors and motion control products seem to be making fewer appearances in the new product arena, at least where most consumer goods are concerned. The bulk of consumer electronics is moving away from using moving parts in their designs. The lack of a motor makes for a smaller product with less to wear out and fail.

Auto-focusing image sensors are eliminating the need for lens-driving motors in cameras. Silicon alternatives are replacing computer disk drives. And since most consumers are favoring MP3s and streaming media to CDs and DVDs, standalone players, which often use two or more motors, are starting to waltz their way to the recycling bin.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a healthy market for motion products. For example, home appliances, robotics, medical, and military markets are fertile ground for motors as well as cabinets and enclosures, timing devices, and cooling products.