Despite worldwide economic volatility, the growing markets for pico-size projectors as well as growing interest in 3D will enable double-digit growth for front projectors from 2011 to 2015, according to Pacific Media Associates.
PMA predicts that front projectors will grow 22 percent compared to 2010, topping 10.4 million unit shipments in 2011, and by 2015 are predicted to exceed 39.4 million units. PMA claims to have uncovered the technological features and product segments that are causing this market's fast growth rate in its recent biennial survey of U.S. front-projector users.
The thumb-size pico-projector's micro mirror is fabricated in the center of a thumbnail-size MEMS chip (Source: Microvision)
According to PMA, the factors affecting growth were different among users of three different categories of projectors, based on their size and output power.
In the "New Era" category, the biggest draw was the small size of the pico-size projectors enabled by micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chips that have downsized the micron-size mirrors for palm-size projectors. Pico projectors are also going 3D, with the latest announcement coming from Microvision, which now offers a dual-lens laser-based unit that projects 3D in a manner similar to the digital cinema projectors, requiring only inexpensive, passive polarized glasses.
Among users of pico projectors (under 500 lumens), the biggest difference was between enterprises versus individual consumers, according to the PMA. Presentations were cited as the most frequent application 75 percent of the time by organizations. For individual consumers, on the other hand, only 35 percent cited the use of pico projectors for presentations. For individuals, viewing photos was cited as the more frequent application 58 percent of the time, as opposed to organizational users who only viewed photos 45 percent of the time.
The second highest use of pico projectors by both groups was watching videos, where 60 percent of organizations and 55 percent of individual consumers used them to project videos. As a result, many models of video cameras, camcorders and even some digital still cameras are now including a built-in pico projector. Pico projectors are also being built into high-end smartphones, according to PMA, which is proving to be popular in developing countries where a user's phone is their main computing device.
In the "Mainstream" category of 500-to-4,999 lumens at PMA, front projectors were used mainly in classrooms, corporate meeting rooms, and in home theater settings, where nearly 8 million units will be sold in 2011. PMA predicts that mainstream projectors will grow by 50 percent over the next five years to top 12 million units by 2015.
Education continues to be a main driver for mainstream projectors, despite austere government budgets worldwide, but technology is also driving acceptance at corporations. For instance, PC-free presentations are driving corporate users to favor newer devices that include WiFi so that the projector is wirelessly controlled from the presenter’s handheld unit, such as a touch-screen tablet or smartphone.
The High-End projectors with 5,000 lumens of output or more are mostly used for digital cinema, auditoriums and in science for simulation and visualization apps. PMA predicts that double-digit grow rates will more than double the sales of high-end projectors, up from 200,000 units in 2011 to over 430,000 units by 2015, a compound annual growth rate of about 21 percent. In this market, new high-end widescreen models are driving a modernization of existing theaters and auditoriums as well as pioneering emerging markets in developing countries.