Published February 2008

Projector Specs Are Dead part 2
By Gary Kayye, CTS

A follow-up to November 2007's discussion.

If you read my November 2007 “Sight Lines,” entitled “Projector Specs Are Dead,” then you know that my hypothesis is that, no matter what projector manufacturers do and say with the marketing of their specifications, the only thing that matters today is service.

The only differentiator in the future will be service.

So, what is good service?
When we take a look at bad service, I think that what’s good will be understood:

• Field Sales: Ever wonder what the heck happened to field sales forces in the display industry? I’ll tell you what: Margins drove many projector manufacturers out of the support market. Most used to have field sales forces (mostly regionally based, some vertical market based) that were on the road 24/7/365 calling on dealers and consultants making sure they had what they needed to support and specify their products. Now, only a handful of companies still have them.

To be honest, you can’t totally blame the projector manufacturers for this. Ultimately, they forced their own demise by playing the “street price” game, but not all are at fault. Although one company may have started it, the fact that other market leaders emulated that street price game meant that the pricing for all projectors was driven down. Remember, in reality, there are only a few manufacturers making all the projectors for all 40 or so brands. As a result, pricing, market-wide, was driven down.

So, a lack of field service personnel has driven down service among many of the projector manufacturers out there.

• Product Support: What continues to amaze me, even now, is the lack of knowledge many of the manufacturers have about their own products. Just test this one out: Randomly call any projector manufacturer and ask, “What does HDMI 1.3a mean?” OK, that may not be fair because you probably don’t even know why you need to know that, so let’s try something they’ve been touting for years as a key buying decision factor: ANSI lumens. Call them and ask, “What exactly is ANSI lumens and what’s the standard for measuring it?” Now, that’s a fair question. They are touting ANSI lumens as a key specification for buying a projector so they should know that one—but most won’t.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Do they know what accessories go with their projectors? Is a mount included or not? What’s the lens throw ratio? The list goes on and on.

So, a lack of product knowledge has driven down service among many of the projector manufacturers out there.

• Basic Service: Have you noticed how hard it is now to get basic service, install and even sales questions answered by some projector manufacturers? It’s like trying to get support from Microsoft...transfer after transfer after transfer. But, there are a few out there that are awesome, with humans answering the phone! That’s all it really takes.

In this day and age of computerized everything, it’s nice to talk to a person, especially one who actually knows the product he’s getting paid to support, huh?

So, as you decide whom to align yourself with in the future, as the market gets bigger and bigger, consider not considering specifications and consider service and support well before anything else! With a good sales rep, you’ll be directed to the right specifications for the install anyway.

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