Is the Screen Business About to Disappear?

In the ProAV market, unless you’re blind (or just like to deny truths), you see the writing on the wall, LITERALLY (you’ll get that pun if you keep reading). The projection screen market is about to nearly die a somewhat rapid death.

Let’s look at the reasons why:

1. The flat screen monitor (LCD and LED) market are kicking-*ss in the meeting rooms. Nearly every integrator in the world is specifying flat-screen LCD’s instead of projectors in every install that calls for a display that’s smaller than 80”. Sure, the projection market still owns the 82” and above category, but, that won’t last — there’s a plethora of 84”, 90” and 100” LCDs and LED-lit LCDs on their way to the market — cheap and light. Note that I did NOT say the classroom market — that is DOMINATED by Epson right now and their BrightLink Pro as well as their inexpensive 3LCD projection line are keeping that world for themselves for a while — classrooms don’t switch out technology as often. So, that will dry up slower — but, keep reading as this doesn’t help the screen market one bit!

2. The Collaboration Board market is about to explode — Microsoft Surface HUBCisco Spark BoardInFocus Mondopad and soon to be, Newline  AvocorJamboard and NEC’s InfinityBoard, are all going to beat the crap out of the projector. In any market where an 84″ (and smaller) projection screen would have been used, the Collaboration Board is going to head-butt them to the floor. These all-in-one room simplifiers are going to be LOVED by clients and “path of least resistance” will dictate that you will integrate them all over the place — not just in meeting rooms but in classrooms, hallways, huddle spaces, nooks, corners, etc., etc., etc.

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3. And, now for the pun — the wall: The new generation of 4K projectors are all bright enough and high-resolution enough to NOT need screens. Instead, you’ll install projectors — in spaces that still need them (or want them) — that will project on walls. Yes, literally on walls. (Thus, the “writing is on the wall”, line above, haha). Wall color, texture, obstacles — none of that will matter. You’ll just color-correct and image-map that out of the projected display. And, the wall will become the screen. Nureva’s SPAN foreshadowed this.

So, no, the projection market isn’t going to die.

But the screen market is.

So, is there room for the big-five — the five big companies making screens? The screen will be around a lot longer in the home theater market, the portable projection market, the traveling presenter market and the large-venue market (well, that last one is also short-lived due to the incoming onslaught of large-format LEDs about to flood the ProAV space) but, those markets are simply not big enough to support five big screen companies.

Wow, the timing of that sale of Da-Lite to Milestone AV seems even more genius now, doesn’t it?

So, while the rest of the ProAV market is about to see a sort of a second-coming of every display technology around, the screen market is about to become the prune of the ProAV space.

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..

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  • Mark Coxon

    Nice piece Gary, but I have to respectfully disagree. Yes, the projection screen business is changing, but in the words of Monty Python… “I’m not dead yet!”

    http://www.ravepubs.com/screen-business-isnt-disappearing-time-soon/

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  • Dan Zimmer

    I like my big displays, but….A 100″ flat panel is great – if you have a surface to mount it to. I see a lot of meeting rooms where the narrow end of the room – where you’d logically hang said flat panel – is all glass from floor to ceiling. You might be able to hang it from the ceiling, but if it’s obscuring a million dollar view, that might be a tough sell. Plus, in newer office towers I’ve seen rooms where no wall is flat, and no angle is a right angle. Even if the wall is flat and neutrally coloured, the best of paints can’t measure up to the science that goes into today’s screen surfaces. Ambient light rejection from your baby blue Sherwin-Williams? I’m thinking not so much. The other issue that many interior designers I’ve spoken with have with large displays is:

    1) They consume a lot of wall space that could often be put to other purposes;
    2) Most of the time they’re off, leaving a big black obelisk that dominates your field of view. Queue apes throwing bones in the air against a soundtrack of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”.

    With the trend in corporate interior design towards minimizing the visibility of technology, large video displays are in fact counterintuitive.

    Finally, solid state projectors are beginning to capture some of that flat panel market back because they offer much of the same value proposition: low TCO, low noise, near – instant on and off, high contrast ratio, great colour.

    To paraphrase Twain, the reports of the imminent death of the projection screen have been greatly exaggerated.

  • Sam Malik

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/511a6efa735db9edbc5fd75175dbba3e393e60c33f9c63597a16316b280ddd3f.jpg

    Gary, slightly agree, but mostly disagree. I think the screen business will be around for a while, especially in the 120″ plus size applications. I saw a lot of great products at ISE this year, and there is still room for improvement. I think the next generation of screens will be designed for use with new technology projectors like Laser Phosphor.

  • Johnnie Sanchez

    I think the screen and projector *resi* market will both essentially die within ~15 years if manufacturers don’t start marketing to Gen X, millennials, and even Gen Z this very minute.

  • Barry Sato

    It seems to me the only real argument to discuss is what is defined as the tipping point, when we will look back one day and say “20XX was the year that <120" projection screens withered away". It's been losing market share steadily since the rise of the LCD and plasma display but it won't completely disappear until after self-flying cars become ubiquitous.

    I guess like with any technology it depends on new applications being embraced. For example, if for some reason mobile projection mapping became a hip new urban art form replacing spray art, would Da-Lite or Draper one day sell a spray on projection film that biodegrades after a week? Would small scale screens be considered dead then?