Consumer electronics hits the big screen

20 Oct 2005

For some, a photograph tells a thousand words. For others, going to the cinema is all about the buttered popcorn or kissing in the back row. Now such romantic concepts are about to be irrevocably turned on their heads and given new meaning with a major shift in consumer culture and the availability of must-haves for the digital lifestyle.

According to Richard Baylis, sales and marketing manager of Epson Ireland and UK, the future of media as we know it is about to take a major swing into the hands of the consumer thanks to the power of technology.

Baylis was in Dublin last week to highlight his company’s forthcoming 2006 product range of digital printers, scanners and home cinema projectors.

Quoting figures from research firm Understanding and Solutions, Baylis said in 2005 alone “some 35 million digital cameras were sold across Western Europe. Of these, some 100 million were camera phones. The growth in digital camera phones is outstripping that of traditional cameras.”

Epson spotted this trend in recent years and made the decision to focus less on the cameras and deliver instead printing and imaging products. Ironically, said Baylis, while people inexorably move towards the realm of digital photography there is a pent-up demand to print increasingly more images. “For a short period of time the early digital converts were sending pictures by email only, but they were used to acting in a digital environment. Increasingly more people want to print photographs. It’s about displaying and sharing memories. It’s about longevity. On average a CD-Rom has 10 years of life on it. However, using Epson papers and inks printed photographs can last 100 years.”

According to Baylis, there is a clear movement in the direction of home printing of digital photography and indicated that 80pc of consumers who acquired the company’s PictureMate photo printer series didn’t connect the printer to a computer, but opted for other means such as memory cards, sticks and USB keys instead.

According to IDC, by 2008 some 29 billion photographs will be printed worldwide – of which 13 billion will be printed at home.

Another major trend highlighted by Baylis will be the movement towards home cinema, which is already under way in terms of DVD products and surround-sound systems. At the event last week the company unveiled a number of home cinema projectors that will cater for traditional media as well as new growth segments such as gaming and high-definition television (HDTV). These included the TW20 cinema system, the HD-ready TW520 and TW600 and the TWD1 home cinema system with built-in DVD player and speakers.

“Next year’s World Cup will drive demand for HDTV. From January, Sky will begin broadcasting in HD from one of its movie channels as well as Sky 1 and the Sky Sports channels. As more HDTV material is made available and HD DVDs become available next year, this market will grow.

“In the UK we are on track for 40pc growth year on year in home cinema between 2005 and 2006. Out of the overall projector market, it is predicted the home market will be the largest single segment by 2008,” Baylis concluded.

Pictured: Richard Baylis, consumer sales and marketing manager, Epson Ireland and UK

By John Kennedy