Eyes on the Prize
InFocus is determined to lead front projection into the home entertainment mainstream—but it still has C-tailers' backs
By Joe Paone
InFocus, long a well-known leader in front projection in the business world, has been knocking on the door of the home entertainment market for almost four years now with its ScreenPlay products. While it's had some significant success placing its front projectors into American homes, it's still largely a TV world. Front projection remains a niche product, but it's a fast-growing niche in InFocus' view.
"Every year, we've seen substantial adoption changes with regard to these projectors," says Jim Davis, senior director of consumer products at InFocus. "We're still just scratching the surface, but our sales have grown double every year we've been in the [home] business." Davis says a "tidal change" occurred last holiday season that represents "the beginning of the real honest-to-goodness mass market acceptance of front projection."
That mass market acceptance will likely be enhanced as InFocus products are sold at Best Buy and Circuit City over the coming months. C-tailers surely welcome the attention that will bring to the category, but they likely won't welcome the competition.
Due to InFocus' segmentation strategy, however, Davis says C-tailers have little to fear and much to gain from big-box projector sales. The products sold in such stores—the $1,099 ScreenPlay 4805 and the $1,599 ScreenPlay 5000—comprise InFocus' entry-level "home entertainment" category. Specialty retailers can sell those products, but also have exclusive access to better performers in InFocus' "home theater" DLP category—the $2,999 ScreenPlay 5700, the $4,999 ScreenPlay 7205 and the $6,999 ScreenPlay 7210—as well as the crown jewel "home cinema" offering, the three-chip DLP ScreenPlay 777, whose price was recently slashed from $29,999 to $19,999.
"Some custom retailers might take umbrage with our strategy of having products like the 4805 and the 5000 in [big-box] retailers, but it helps drive some traffic into places that wouldn't otherwise get it," says Davis. "We get an awful lot of press through the sales of those types of products. Good custom retailers, like most of them are, will take a customer that walks in who [has been] exposed to the 4805 or the 5000 and tell them why they should really be buying something else."