According to PMA, total projector sales in 2011 hit nearly 10M units, including about 1.8M picoprojectors. Asia had the strongest growth, with double-digit gains. Sales elsewhere including the Americas and EMEA (Europe, Mid-East, Africa) also grew, but at single-digit rates. The fastest growth in the mainstream projector market (500 – 4999 lumens by PMA’s definition) was 50 percent growth rate in ultra short-throw and interactive projectors. PMA’s lower limit of 500 lumens is already causing them problems, since 500 lumen LED-based microprojectors are available from multiple vendors. These projectors are clearly not “mainstream” when it comes to the application space.
According to Futuresource, the global projector market reached 7.67 million units in 2011, representing a 3.5 percent year-on-year growth. Presumably, the discrepancy between Futuresource and PMA data on the total projector market is that Futuresource is not including picoprojectors and other low-lumen units in its total.
Futuresource commented that due to uncertain global economic conditions continuing to affect market demand, market growth is increasingly due to two major market segments; emerging markets and increased penetration in the education sector. Both companies agreed that strong sales territories in Q4 included Indonesia with 126k units, Russia with 76k units and Brazil with 55k units. In all of these countries it was the education market driving the sales.
Futuresource added that the overall professional display market was up sharply, about 20 percent year-over-year, due to strong sales of flat panel displays. This may not be good news for projector makers because Insight Media believes the main reason to buy a projector rather than a flat-panel display is to get a larger image than you could otherwise afford. While 60″ LCD TVs from recognized brands like Sharp selling for just under $1,000, commercial versions are more expensive. But 70-inch and larger sized commercial flat panels are available too, so projector makers can no longer rely on their large image size as the key reason to buy a projector.
Larger images mean the projectors need to have higher output. Typical “mainstream” projector output used to be around 2,000 lumens but now you hardly find a lamp or hybrid-based projector with less than 2,500 lumens.
The projector manufacturers seem to be optimistic themselves, with a lot of announcements on new products. I guess this is announcement season, with CES, BETT and FETC in January and ISE in February. Of course, season for introductions never seems to end, with major mid-year announcements coming at InfoComm in June, which isn’t really that far away. Still, the announcements seem to be coming at an accelerated rate: I have been bombarded with press releases. At least 15 mainstream projector manufacturers have launched new projectors at ISE, FETC or BETT. There will be a table in the upcoming issue of Large Display Report listing all these new projectors and their major features and performance properties, with separate articles on the most interesting of the projectors.
Matt Brennesholtz is an analyst for Insight Media. Reach him at email@example.com