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New Kid on the Block
Olympus VP-1

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Olympus VP-1 Projector Olympus VP-1
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2000:1 Contrast Ratio
1000 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

The portable projector market is a tough market with 68 projector manufacturers and suppliers competing for mind share and shelf space. It is not easy for a new company to join this club unless it has an existing distribution channel, a differentiated offering, a lower cost to market, and/or an entrepreneurial spirit.

In the company profile, Olympus President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa states the need to "act thoughtfully but boldly and fast" through "creative innovation" - a clear attempt to kindle the Olympus entrepreneurial spirit and run with new ideas.

Their targeted channel is the digital camera market. As one of the top 5 suppliers in the digital camera world, it's a channel they know well. To move "boldly and fast", Olympus partnered with PLUS, one of the premier manufacturers of highly mobile projectors. This eliminated R&D cost and reduced the time to market.

Olympus' first projector offering is a very small, light, XGA (1024 x 768) highly mobile projector that is not much larger than a digital

Olympus VP-1 Projector
Olympus VP-1
camera. Priced at $2,495 and dubbed the VP-1, aka PLUS V-1100Z, this projector utilizes some of Olympus' lens technology and Texas Instruments' DDR (double data rate) DLP display using a 4 segment color wheel (red, green, blue, white) spinning at 2 revolutions per frame (2x). Weighing in at 2.4 pounds (1.1 kilos), this little jewel comes with a double bag carrying case - one for cables and one for the projector. It's about an inch wider and longer than a CD case and less than 2 inches high. Capable of delivering 1000 ANSI lumens of light output and 2000:1 contrast, the VP-1 projector is one of 21 sub-3-pound XGA projectors in the market as of this writing.

The VP-1 was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas along with the P-10 compact printer. Both products are part of the total imaging solution that Olympus is offering digital camera users. The initial market thrust is the business user and an offering for the home entertainment market will follow.

Olympus estimates that the North American market will reach 1.4 million units by 2007 and 4 million units worldwide. Their near-term goal is to achieve a 10% market share in North America and expand to Asia and Europe if circumstances are favorable. Olympus is forecasting 5,000 ($6 million) projectors to be shipped in 2004 and 100,000 projectors in 2007.

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