Canon takes a shot at flat panel display market

NEW YORK — At its Canon Expo 2005, the digital camera, printer and copier manufacturer confirmed the company would be heading into the display market.

The company has put the finishing touches on a 50-inch model that will have the Canon and Toshiba brand names.

This model will be based on surface conduction electron-emitted display (SED) and will be positioned for the high-end TV marketplace for now.

Eliott Peck, vice-president and general manager, sales consumer imaging group for Canon, said that outside of home theatres Canon is looking into developing SED computer monitors for business, medical and education markets.

“We have to look at the flat-screen market,” Peck said. “These are things that we have not finalized yet. SED TV will be out within two years, but it could be out soon maybe even in six months from now.”

Canon has invested more than a billion dollars in flat-panel manufacturing plants, he added. The company has also entered into a joint venture with Toshiba called SED Inc. and acquired two plants from NEC.

SED is the next generation flat-panel display that is intended to deliver high image quality, fast response, and low power consumptions. According to Canon officials at the show, the company has been working on SED technology for 20 years. An SED realizes the same principle as CRT, but with an ultra-thin profile.

The CRT’s conventional electron gun is replaced with electron emitters of a new type in the SED, which are mounted on a glass panel and correspond to each pixel.

During a test on the Expo show floor, SED displays produced 93 watts of power to project an image compared to 154 watts for the same image on a plasma screen.

Currently, there are 57 flat-panel display vendors who offer plasma and LCD.

Peck admits the market is crowded and that they are late to the game, but added SED completes the cycle of images produced by Canon products.

“The influx of digital images are not just about prints, but also images on displays. We are an imaging company. And, there will be a whole new avenue of business where SED can be applied to,” Peck said.

Bob Hoxie, Canon division manager for St. Catherines, Ont.-based reseller Beatties Basics, isn’t worried that Canon is late to market on displays.

“When Canon got into the copier market there was a company called Xerox and they had 95 per cent market share. It turned out pretty good for them so far. Canon is the type of company that is good at developing new products and bring them to market,” Hoxie said.

Canon has not formulized its go to market strategy on SED.

Besides confirming that SED displays will be positioned as a high end product, Peck said he did not know what sales channels the company would be using.

Peck did say he envisions SED displays on office desktops. “I would like to see SEDs everywhere — on the desktop, the emergency room, the board room and the family room.

Hoxie, whose company Beattie also owns some CompuSmart stores, believes SED is a natural for MFP printers. He said SED would help improve current full colour screens. “It will help us sell our products. Colour screens are not new and the TV makes sense from a revenue growth opportunity. I would see CompuSmart picking up the line. We already sell plasma screens,” Hoxie said.

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