Worldwide consumer demand for front projectors utilizing DLP, polysilicon, or D-ILA imager chips is growing rapidly. The sector is up from 28,500 units in the first calendar quarter of 2002 to 30,900 unit in the second quarter, according to the latest quarterly manufacturer census conducted by Pacific

Media Associates (PMA) of Menlo Park, Calif.

If the pace of product introductions by the industry leaders during the last two months is any indication, this growth is likely to accelerate during coming quarters. The CEDIA show was the impetus for the spate of recent announcements, but a flock of new design platforms has enabled big improvements in price/performance in all price ranges. The slowing growth in the professional front projector market has resulted in manufacturers’ focusing increased attention on the consumer market.

Unlike most other high-technology products, where the Americas region (U.S. plus Canada plus Latin America) accounts for about 40 per cent of world demand, slightly under 20 per cent of the world market for consumer front projectors goes to the Americas. Conventional wisdom is that the larger living spaces in North American dwellings permits bulky rear-projectors, whereas in EMEA and Asia front projectors and large flat-panel models are in much stronger demand. But there is another important factor. The U.S. distribution channels are surprisingly limited today when it comes to front projectors, especially at the low-price end. When this bottleneck is overcome the U.S. market could show dramatic growth, particularly at the $999 price point.

The consumer market can be segmented several ways. One popular one is by the models sold through the CEDIA channel. (This includes models sold by Dream Vision, Dwin, Marantz, Runco, Sharp (XV series), SIM2, Sony (VPL-VW1xHT series), Toshiba (TDP-MTx and TLP-MTx series), Yamaha, and Zenith.). On this basis, the Americas accounts for 35 per cent of the world total, reflecting particularly the strength of the high-end market in the U.S.

According to PMA’s manufacturer census, DLP is by far the preferred choice of the CEDIA crowd, accounting for 87 per cent of the Americas market. But in the total worldwide consumer market polysilicon-based projectors account for 56 per cent, reflecting their strength among lower-priced models and countries outside the U.S.

The market statistics quoted above were drawn from PMA’s quarterly census of all front projector manufacturers, covering 62 countries and all models designated by manufacturers as being intended primarily for consumers. Virtually every manufacturer participates in this census, which results in accurate totals. And thanks to PMA’s highly refined SQL Server database, the data is summarized in a variety of useful breakdowns, making it highly actionable.

Since professional units currently outnumber consumer ones by 12:1 (worldwide professional units in Q2 were 372,000 vs. 30,900 for consumer ones), understanding of the split of the professional ones is obviously the key to accurate estimation of the total consumer market on a “who paid?” basis.

William L. Coggshall is the president of PMA, which is a market research firm that tracks the large-screen display market. For more visit there Web site at www.pacificmediaassociates.com.

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