There are few people in this industry who haven't had the nightmare involving a crucial presentation and the projector that doesn't work.
It is part of growing up in IT. For many, Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong, will) was written to describe trying to connect notebooks to projectors for important meetings.
Thankfully, projectors are not as bad as they once were, with wireless models now taking the cabling quagmire out of the equation. They have come a long way, like many other audiovisual (AV) technologies.
Indeed, the AV market is a buoyant one, attracting resellers like moths to a flame. The UK market is estimated to be worth £2.5bn.
Price competition, especially in projectors and plasma, have shot both technologies out of the niche/luxury space and into the mainstream.
In contrast, interactive whiteboard prices have remained relatively static but, thanks to the government throwing cash at the education sector, they are selling strongly.
Market watcher Decision Tree Consulting has claimed that 40,000 whiteboards will be sold in the UK this year, rising to 57,000 in 2004.
Prices for entry-level projectors have now fallen below the £1,000 sweet spot; dealers can get them for £650. Even better, the technology you get for that is not bargain-basement.
Projectors have got smaller, with 3kg considered heavy. Supermodel-thin 1kg or 2kg products are all the rage, especially for road warriors (or now 'corridor warriors').
Even with prices toppling, margins on hardware alone are still in the 10 per cent bracket, and 15 per cent and above for higher-end models. Add installation, support, training, accessories and replacement parts, and the margins creep up.
The market for large-screen technology, both dominant plasma and upstart LCD, is set to grow rapidly over the next few years.
Pacific Media Associates has predicted that unit sales will grow from 605,000 in 2003 to 4.7 million by 2007.
Although hardly cheap, 42in plasma screens that were £5,000 two years ago are in the £3,000 range now, which is a lot more acceptable. This market has potential.
Interactive whiteboards are reaping the benefits of the education sector's deep pockets; that market accounts for 90 per cent of UK sales. But there are signs of life in the corporate sector. Once prices fall, sales will jump.
Entering the AV market is easy but making it work is no cake walk; a little groundwork may help.
Big AV distributors such as Steljes, Midwich and Maverick are fending off the broadline distributors by offering advice, training and support to resellers.
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