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LCD or DLP Projection? Decisions, Decisions

Texas Instruments DLP marketing juggernaut hard to beat By Gary Kayye, CTS

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines projector engines, that is.

Since 1998, Texas Instruments DLP division has out-marketed, out-maneuvered, out-published and, according to many sales figures, even out-sold LCD in virtually of the leading projector vertical market segments.  I say ?virtually because there are some markets in which DLP hasnt been playing but when it does, it generally wins.

Digital Cinema DLP
Staging DLP
Micro-portables DLP
Ultra-portables DLP
Portables DLP

Ah, but LCD hasnt dominated the meeting room market?  Not so fast. DLP has only had products for that vertical market category for 16 months.  So, its too early to call a winner in this category, but right now, this is where LCD still dominates.

So why is it that DLP dominates?  Is DLP technology that much better?

Truthfully, not really.  In fact, I believe TIs magic is not necessarily in the technology as much as it is in the marketing.  Hands-down, TIs marketing just simply BLOWS AWAY anything any of the individual 3LCD companies have done thus far.

But earlier this year, a consortium of 3LCD projector manufacturers including Epson, Sony, ViewSonic, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sanyo, Fujitsu, Avio and Daewoo announced that they were fighting back with a 3LCD marketing campaign.  In their initial announcement, they even quoted renowned projector market analyst Dr. William Coggshall as saying, ?3LCD is clearly the dominant microdisplay technology worldwide when you look at the total number of customers who have purchased front and rear projection products so far."

Coggshall, founder of arguably the most respected projector analyst firm in the world, Pacific Media Associates, went on to say, "Based on our calculations, over nine million projection products using 3LCD technology have been purchased to date, surpassing any other microdisplay technology on the market, and that figure continues to grow at a rapid pace.

True, but remember, 3LCD had no DLP competition for more than six years while DLP was still in development.  In fact, I remember in 1996 when TI was just starting to truly launch DLP technology, I went to the DLP factory and was amazed.  Not just with the technology as LCD technology is amazing in itself as well but with the marketing kit they were getting ready to send out.  It included an educational CD (something that no one was doing at the time), a real DLP 640x480 chip, white papers, an incredible article from Lars Yoder (one that is still the best-written article on DLP technology to date), and color connection diagrams on how the technology worked. And it was all packaged in a colorful cardboard box. It was the most professional PR kit the ProAV industry had seen thus far.  What it was, was real marketing. 

And, TI continued this trend with ads in major consumer print publications like Forbes, WIRED, USA Today, Fortune and many others, and it serves up one of the most educational Web sites in the ProAV market -- http://www.dlp.com -- as well as great trade show booths, parties and giveaways and more and more educational materials.

All the while Sony, EPSON, Hitachi, Sanyo, Mitsubishi and the like all marketed their own products, but hardly ever marketed their technology or even their technological improvements over the years.

This was the difference.

And, unfortunately for them, continues to be the difference.

Although the 3LCD logo is nice and creative, and the small note pads and bags they gave out at InfoComm were pretty, they still lack the breadth of educational pieces that TI has.  All you have to do is go to the two web sites and youll see that for yourself: http://www.3lcd.com and http://www.dlp.com

But watch out DLP; 3LCD is coming.  And, instead of having the backing of just one technology giant, 3LCD claims to now have the backing of 13.

I believe its going to come down to marketing.  There is no denying that both technologies are great.  I used to teach a class called ?The Perfect Image where, after evaluating all the great 3LCD and DLP projectors out there, the class left with the impression that 3LCD was the way to go when projecting computer images and DLP was the way to go when projecting video.  But, not any more.  Now we see strengths in both for both applications depending on what the content looks like, it may very well look better on a 3LCD projector than a DLP projector and vice versa. 
But when I walk into Circuit City and listen to the sales people talk to customers or, when a neighbor asked, ?isnt DLP technology better than LCD?  Thats marketing.  Great marketing. TIs just been out-marketing 3LCD. But, now with a consortium of LCD manufacturers making up the 3LCD brand, the battle has truly begun.

This will be a great battle to watch but, will I watch it in my home theater on my DLP projector or in my family room on my 45 LCD TV?

Decisions, decisions.

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Gary Kayye, CTS is Chief Visionary at Kayye Consulting, Inc., a Chapel Hill, NC-based marketing consulting firm that serves the ProAV and Home Theater markets. In addition to strategic marketing consulting, Kayye Consulting, Inc. is also a training development company. Gary can be reached via e-mail at gkayye@kayye.com or through his Web site at www.kayye.com.
Related Keywords:projector, Texas Instruments, DLP, LCD, Gary Kayye


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