The pro projector market is notorious for anorexic margins, to the point that many integrators and vendors have bailed out. The latest to exit is Mitsubishi, whose October 11th announcement is and isn't a surprise.
It's not a surprise to those who track the projector market. For example, in PMA Research's September 2013 survey of North American dealers and integrators, Mitsubishi's XD700 was No. 3 in the high-end segment after Epson's top-selling PowerLite 1945W and Panasonic's PT-DZ570. Mitsubishi products didn't rank in PMA's mainstream and pico/personal categories.
But profitability was the coup de grace.
"We have been sustaining losses, so we decided it’s about time we exit the market,” said James Chan, vice president of marketing at Mitsubishi Electric Visual Solutions America. “We want to focus on stronger businesses and make them even stronger."
The decision is still a surprise to existing and prospective customers, and not just because Mitsubishi made the announcement quietly, with no press release. For example, one AV Technology reader who switched from Sharp to Mitsubishi projectors three years ago is concerned about service options. Additionally, Mitsubishi's new crop of cloud projectors created a buzz at InfoComm 2013 just months ago.
Chan says the company will continue to honor warranties until they expire. Mitsubishi also will maintain its parts centers and support lines.
“It’s basically business as usual for the support and service part," Chan said. "People don’t need to worry about not having [any place] to go for support. The authorized service and telephone support will still be there.”
Although Mitsubishi has stopped manufacturing projectors, it will continue to sell them until existing supplies run out. That's noteworthy for existing Mitsubishi customers looking to stock up, such as to support future expansions without having to learn the ins and outs of other vendors' products.
Mitsubishi warranties projectors for three years, so customers can expect support and service through at least late 2016. Depending on the size of its customer base, it's possible that another vendor could step in after that to provide parts. Mitsubishi has never authorized third parties to manufacture lamps, for example, but some vendors already offer compatible models.