Independent Third Peak

The industry as a whole is beginning to warm up for the year-end shopping season, with presentation meetings being held almost every day to announce new products. At the same time, nominations for the 2007 Visual Grand-Prix and the 2007 Audio Excellence Awards are lively as well, and the brisk pace suggests that the number of entries will exceed last year痴 1,000 models (including small items and accessories). The principal factors behind this surge are the recovery of the industry and, in addition to an increase in the number of core product models, a sharp rise in the number of added-value product ideas.

In the field of audiovisual equipment, last year痴 pattern of slim-type televisions having a runaway lead followed by other digital equipment remains unchanged, but I would like to draw attention to the fact that the spread sideways is also lively.

Among such developments, the appearance of Epson痴 EMP-TWD3 projector, called the 電reamio, is notable. The 電reamio is a successor to the EMP-TWD1 model, which went on sale last year. In addition to its basic function as a projector with a built-in DVD player, the EMP-TWD3 adds such user-oriented functions as a personal computer connection terminal. It is very unusual for me to take up any specific product in this column, but I am doing so this time because the EMP-TWD3 projector is a truly epoch-making product.

Amid the current of the times, there are always various epoch-making products that create new markets that, in turn, go on to create the next markets. A typical example was the Walkman portable stereo cassette player with headphones.

The point is not only the strengths or weaknesses of the hardware functions but also the clarification of a concept. There are many such products occupying a central role at the moment. For example, the concept of slim-type TVs by Sharp in the liquid-crystal field and by Matsushita, Pioneer, Hitachi, and others in the plasma field is now creating a new market.

When Epson came out with the EMP-TWD1 model last year, I was very excited by the concept. I imagine that many people in the industry responded negatively. Some people would have commented that it was simply inadequate as a projector, while distributors would have said that they were too busy with products that were selling at the moment to handle it. However, the former were only looking in terms of function, and the latter did not understand the concept. Since their task is to sell products that are going well at the time faster than rival companies, they put the emphasis on slim-type TVs. In a sense, that is only natural.

To be frank, though, the EMP-TWD1 was a market-creating product that opened up a new genre of projector, a kind of independent peak that could not be judged through the common perception of conventional projectors. It was only natural that this product was going to attract many ordinary buyers, including elderly people and women. The concept was fivefold: high performance, easy operation, free setting, simple design, and reasonable price.

The EMP-TWD1 was very easy to use. All you had to do was plug it in. When you finished watching, you could just put it away.

I would like readers to recognize this model as a market-creating product that constitutes the entrance to the field of what I have proposed in my 鍍wo-way theater declaration. In particular, if you approach the product as an added value for buyers of slim-type TVs, then the likelihood of completing a sale is going to be high.

Previously there were two peaks for projector, the high-end peak and the casual peak, but now the EMP-TWD1 and TWD3 have formed a third peak. I hope that other makers also enter the built-in-type projector market and develop a healthy competition in this field. Essentially home theaters are upmarket products. In order to reach the next step, the formation of a built-in-type market is an urgent necessity.