Professional audio/video dealers, integrators, and design consultants express a “quite positive” outlook for continued growth in their industry over the next three years, reports the trade association ICIA (International Communications Industries Association). The group’s 2004 Market Forecast Survey predicts both income and profits to increase this year, following a nine percent jump in median revenue from 2002 to $3 million in 2003.
Among the “new products and technologies” slated to promote positive growth are:
digital signal processing (DSP),
control systems and devices,
integration of A/V systems into IT (information technology) environments,
wireless technologies and larger displays,
remote management and monitoring systems, and the residential market.
Respondents to the ICIA survey identified the business/corporate market as the industry’s most significant category, representing an average 23 percent of revenues in 2003. Other markets also viewed as important are higher education, accounting for 14.9 percent of revenues, government and military, meetings and events, worship, and K-12 schools.
Helping to boost members’ optimism is an overall improving business climate, ICIA notes, as evidenced by the stock market, for example. But among the trends believed by respondents to be having a negative effect on their business include: “mega-stores,” Internet- and manufacturer-direct sales, lower priced equipment (especially projectors), and margin erosion in professional A/V products.
A continued reduction in prices of one major type of equipment, displays (video screens), is confirmed in a report by iSuppli/Sanford Resources, which predicts “rapidly decreasing prices” due to growth in “fabrication capacity and improvements in the manufacturing process of display panels.” According to analyst Sanju Khatri, “Declines in display prices are being driven partly by planned massive expansions for fabrication lines for large-screen LCD and plasma display panels.”
These flat-panel displays are a major factor in the exploding “digital signage” market, where large-screen displays are used for information, advertising, and entertainment using full-motion and full-color video in both indoor and outdoor environments. iSuppli/Sanford Resources predicts revenue from sales of displays to nearly quadruple over the next five years to $2.35 billion.
“In 2003, the 42-inch SVGA plasma screen was the most popular digital sign used in retail outlets,” Katri reports. “During the next few years, plasma will remain the dominant technology, but will lose a significant share of the retail market to large-sized TFT-LCDs.”
Khatri says dividing the market in terms of screen size, displays under 42 inches “predominantly will be LCDs,” displays larger than 50 inches “will be the domain of plasma technology,” and displays between 42 and 50 inches will “use mainly plasma technology for the next two to three years,” but as the price of LCD panels declines, “they will claim an increasing share of this segment.”
Khatri believes this availability of several alternative technologies for large form-factor displays — LED video, plasma, LCD, and projection displays — is spurring interest in digital signage. “Although the LED video display will be the technology of choice for outdoor billboards, banners and marquees, retailers will have a choice of plasma, LCD, or rear-projection screens for indoor signage.
“With digital signage, retail stores can change their advertising content faster, more easily, and less expensively compared to using traditional signs. It also gives retail stores the capability to provide information based on regional preferences, lifestyle trends, and the buying patterns of a particular market.”
Providing compelling content is a key ingredient, says Khatri. “Using digital signage in stores is a much more complex endeavor than it might initially appear, owing to the large number of players that all must contribute to building a digital sign system.” Besides the content provider and suppliers of the technology, other players include “software suppliers and network operators to manage content distribution across the network.”
sources for this article include the international communications industries association (www.icia.org) and “digital signage showcase live,” produced for the 2004 systems integration expo sponsored by the national systems contractors association (www.nsca.org), and isuppli/stanford resources (www.stanfordresources.com).