Projecting a new image

Projecting a new image

Pleasants explained that while the business and education markets didn't have many alternatives for viewing material in a large format, the home theatre market saw projectors battling with large plasma screen and LCD televisions.

"There will always be home theatre enthusiasts who want to use a projector, but also a lot of people who will just go for a plasma screen instead," he said. "So it's always a bit of a battle in that home area as there's just so much choice compared to in business."

That's refreshing
With the projector market growing incrementally, on top of a large installed base of projectors already residing with customers, the largest opportunity for resellers unsurprisingly lies in the area of refreshing existing customer hardware.

"Resellers might fi nd that, in the past, their customers didn't have a reason to upgrade. They had an SVGA 1000 ANSI lumens projector and they were happy with it because it worked," Toshiba's White said. "But now that a reseller can go in with an XGA 2000 or 3000 ANSI lumens projector, there's a reason to refresh and they'll be able to get in the door."

Epson's Pleasants said a strong area of opportunity was schools and educational institutions, where an emphasis on digital whiteboards was creating more interest in projectors.

"Resellers need to capitalise on the education area and the whole digital whiteboard phenomenon, which works hand-in-hand with projectors," he said. "For those without a foot in the education door, resellers should focus on total cost of ownership."

The old view of projectors - particularly the expense of replacement bulbs - also needed to be addressed with customers as the market had moved on, Pleasants said.

"Lamp life has been pushed up and the cost of lamps has been pushed down," he said. "The whole cost of ownership is different to 12 months ago and that needs to be understood by resellers when they are selling to their customers."

White agreed price would play a strong role in businesses refreshing their projectors or perhaps taking them into the business for the first time.

"A 2000 ANSI lumens XGA projector is no longer a $5000 or $6000 unit for a reseller to be trying to sell," he said. "They can now offer a unit like that to their customers for under $2000 and still make a pretty good margin on it."

Vendors also pointed out resellers might be able to upsell customers to projectors as part of a laptop sale. With the price of projectors coming down, and portability on the rise, businesses could conceivably be pitched on buying a portable projector for every laptop purchased.

"As prices come down, projectors are becoming more accessible, even to small businesses," Pleasants said. "And as they get smaller and more portable, they are becoming an increasingly important business device for portable presentations and the like."

Mitsubishi's Hanna suggested resellers also look towards the hospitality industry for potential sales. He claimed this was an area where projector take-up might yet see some real growth and give plasma screens a run for their money.

"I think pubs and clubs are a huge growth area for the channel," he said. "With big events coming up, like the Rugby World Cup, there are definitely opportunities out there where clubs will want to upgrade their facilities. Resellers can take advantage of that."

Hanna said widescreen and Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors represented clear refresh paths from what might have been installed previously.

"Projectors are getting brighter with better contrasts and the price point of the XGA models is almost the same as what SVGA models were a short time ago," agreed IDC's Rego. "Businesses are buying them and, although LCD and plasma screen televisions are getting cheaper in the consumer market, there are always home theatre enthusiasts."

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