Pausing for Breath Between BETT & ISE

This week, we have included the BETT report for readers of the LDM newsletter. As I mentioned in the report, I was surprised that there wasn’t a lot more VR technology at the event – perhaps I was looking in the wrong places! Nor was there much in the mobile device space, although everybody had software (of differing degrees of sophistication) to allow the sharing of client devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs or Chromebooks) onto big displays where everybody could see them.

I was slightly surprised by the bullish mood at BETT, as I thought it might be a little downbeat because I had heard that education budgets would be tight in 2016 in the UK, but most people were pretty happy. However, at the moment this is partly because a year ago, it looked as though the big brands would start to hit the specialists and smaller companies that have developed the market. That doesn’t seem to have happened and the big brands have found it harder than they expected to develop volume in the education market.

Education buyers are often very careful in their use of budgets for technology, and can drive a hard bargain. Given, then, a price-driven market that is not growing dramatically (at least, not in Western Europe) and is not that big, the big brands have had to limit their investment in the education market and that means really difficulty in competing against embedded suppliers.

I suspect that the big brands will have more success in the corporate market for interactive displays. This market is being opened up by sophisticated products at much more attractive (to the makers and channels) prices – such as the Microsoft Surface Hub and the new offerings from Google and Cisco. Cisco is even working on a subscription-based model for its new video-conferencing-centric display. No doubt the company will get some business from those that love Cisco, but I suspect that the kind of business being pursued by developments from companies such as Dell, will be more successful. I heard at BETT that sales of Microsoft’s Surface Hub have been going well, with large multiple unit sales not uncommon.

I expect to see lots of activity in this category at ISE next week. As we mentioned in the BETT report, there was a significant move to adopt alternative touch, especially the FlatFrog InGlass technology, for big displays. That’s good to see as a number of other approaches to big touch displays, based on PCap with alternative materials, have failed over the last couple of years. Technological competition is good for the market!

The other big topic will be LED. Sony has shown its Cledis LED technology multiple times now, since its launch at Infocomm, and it never fails to impress. The big question at ISE is whether anybody can show anything that can really compete? I wouldn’t bet on it, but, equally, somebody may have something comparable, in a back room, even if not on the show floor!

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of our readers at ISE.