This year has been tipped to be another tough year for audiovisual (AV) resellers, software and services but there are a few rays of hope.
Joel Chimoindes, unified communications (UC) business unit director at Avnet Technology Solutions, said things had been tough and may continue to be so for players that have failed to adapt to market conditions.
“The old adage is that if you keep doing the same things, you will get the same result. So for partners, we think you should look at new areas that can be successful,” he said.
Videoconferencing and associated services could be a tough sell but could do well this year if partners have a convincing tale to tell. In particular, leading with video solutions, rather than printers, displays or projectors, gives VARs the opportunity to address real business issues.
“Visual communications are all about business drivers. Projectors and plasmas and AV integration in the board room are very good but do not have as much business-solution capability,” said Chimoindes.
Last year’s themes of cost reduction and business optimisation will continue to be key, and visual communications sales could benefit, he added.
Research company Plimsoll has released a report, “Industry Analysis – Audiovisual Equipment”, predicting further consolidation and job losses across the AV sector. And companies that have chased aggressive growth in 2009 may find themselves in trouble in 2010, according to Plimsoll.
Kendra Ingram, pro-AV channel manager at vendor Optoma, said that she expects 2010 to be an excellent year due to a surfeit of exciting technology appearing across the sector – not least in projectors and digital signage.
“This is the first year for a while where there is a lot of new technology and a bit of a refresh happening,” she said. “For projectors, we are not expecting a huge increase in numbers on last year.”
Projection sales will hinge on ultra short-throw and short-throw, pico, and 3D for education or home and gaming markets.
Asked whether Casio’s new lamp-free projector is likely to shake things up, Ingram said: “I am not quaking in my boots yet. It is a very good projector and it was a real surprise. But it is still early because of the price point and the fact Casio is a smaller player.”
Digital signage is new for Optoma, but the company sees good things happening.
“It is going to be massive this year. A lot more of the market has been opened up to digital signage, and the product is now a lot more accessible. It is becoming very big for schools,” said Ingram.
That said, channel consolidation across AV this year is probable, she added, especially in the larger operators that do not specialise in projectors. In pro-AV, products are getting more high-end, and HD is becoming de rigeur.
Wayne Stephens, vice president of EMEA partners and alliances for Tandberg, confirmed that video is on the up, with more growth expected, despite the tribulations suffered by the IT industry overall.
“Video is going to grow and be big. VARs should look at how they can scale up to deal with that capacity. If you do not have the skills, you should probably invest in them. If you have the skills, you should invest in capacity,” said Stephens.
Consolidation is probable across the channel, but areas such as mobile video, video on the desktop, videoconference calls that are as easy to set up from anywhere as an audio conference call, and easy-to-configure solutions that do not need an engineer should prove popular, said Stephens.
Darren Lewitt, divisional director at Midwich, said consumer TVs are expected to sell well, especially the larger screen sizes. Businesses are expected to keep buying these – at least until the LG business displays gather momentum.
“And people will not find these all over the web, so the chance of resellers finally making a bit of margin exists,” said Lewitt.
The education market will also retain opportunities, with e-boards, displays, and visualisers.
“We are quite excited about visualisers and had good feedback from people at the BETT show on them. A sub-£200 product is out for the first time,” said Lewitt.
Printing and imaging
Alastair Coyne, printing and imaging product manager at Midwich, said 2009’s themes would continue in the printing market, with multifunction, laser, A3, colour, large-format, connectivity, software, and managed services being key.
“And the likes of Kodak and Lexmark have increased the hardware cost, while reducing the consumables pricing,” he said.
In imaging, sales will be more about prosumer-level SLRs with sales of digital compacts and camcorders being cannibalised by the rising capabilities of handheld devices. Third-party accessories will offer good margin. Scanner sales are expected to continue, as are fax sales.
“We still sell a huge range of faxes. We are always surprised people are still buying them,” said Coyne.
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