HP to Exit Projector Market

By Steve Sechrist

One of our European contacts sent over a news tip today confirming rumors that HP is exiting the digital projector market. According to David Edwards, an HP Image and Print Group spokesperson, the company has decided to “shift focus” of its commercial projector business from projection to display solutions. He went on to say this would be a global move and the company will sell of the projector inventory until depleted.

A trip to the HP projection web site also helps to confirm the statement. Go to http://www.hp.com/sbso/product/projector/index.html and you will find this statement: “HP is no longer offering the following projectors on HP.com.” The list includes the entire line of “Currently in Production” projectors from HP as listed on the Projector Central Web site. These include the VP 6300 series (6310, 10c, and 20), the XP 7000 series (7010 and 7030) and MP 3135 (W).

Time was that even projector heavyweights were shaking in their boots when HP decided to take the plunge into the front projection space. The company had recently merged with Compaq who already had a healthy inventory of front projectors for the lucrative mobile business professional space with a plan to grow the laptop/projector attach rate.

The thinking on the street was that HP could build on this model and expand it into the enterprise space. HP had (still has) the power to dominate the enterprise projector space by leveraging its ubiquitous printer business. The company penetrated the network enterprise early on with its OpenView printer management software and analysts saw this fact, combined with the growing trend in projection networking for remote support as winning synergies. HP could simply add projectors nodes on to their popular enterprise management software and sell conference room projectors along with its printer lines.

The rationale was, with HP’s huge printer hardware and OpenView software install base, even a modest attach rate would push projector penetration a full order of magnitude beyond current enterprise projector market levels.

In addition, we have no word on HP’s RPTV business that undoubtedly leverages technology from this now abandoned group. The company sells three DLP models ranging from 58- to 65-inch and retail from $2699 to $4199.

What went wrong is a topic for discussion another day. But suffice it to say that what looks good on paper does not always pan out in real life. HP and Compaq combined to launch over 37 front projector models-some with cutting-edge ideas that reshaped the industry. “Wobulation” for example, was first introduced in 2004 by HP and adopted by TI to give small format microdisplays the ability to double resolution using the wobulation mirror. HP was also one of the first to market with a dual color wheel design.

While HP’s exit from front projection is a disappointment for the industry in general, this has to be bittersweet news for the likes of mainstay projector companies like InFocus and other new entrants like Planar. For what may have looked like the validation of the industry with HP’s entrance into the market has simply lapsed into yet another failed attempt at market domination in a space that proves to be not easily understood – let alone dominated. –SS

About Insight Media: Insight Media http://www.insightmedia.info is a leading market and technology research firm providing its unique Opportunity Analysis for manufacturers and resellers of electronic displays and their components. Opportunity Analysis evaluates technology, market data, competitive factors, user applications, business and distribution elements and combines them into an integrated strategic operational guide. Insight Media also provides timely newsletters, detailed assessments, global market reports, focused industry conferences, and tactical consulting.

Steve can be contacted at steve@insightmedia.info