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InfoComm China 2016 from a digital signage point of view

05 May 2016 Vinita Jakhanwal

Held annually for three days at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, China, the 11th InfoComm China (IFC) is Asia Pacific’s biggest professional audiovisual (pro-AV) and information communications technology (ICT) trade show. This year, the show registered a record number of 287 exhibitors and 26,728 unique visitors.

The show this year was unique and different from previous shows and other industry shows, perhaps signaling a change in digital signage market dynamics. As a first, Samsung and other big liquid crystal display (LCD) companies were absent from the show. Second, light-emitting diode (LED) video walls with fine pixel pitch took center stage. Third, projection display products appear to be making a comeback, but seem to be limited to the Chinese market. These trends from IFC reaffirm our forecast that LED video technology is gaining a stronghold in the digital signage market, with fine pixel pitch LED video technology growing 85% year-over-year in 2016.

Samsung is the market leader in China for branded LCD displays for digital signage with a 7% market share. However, it was conspicuously absent at IFC this year, perhaps signaling an impact on its market position in China. This is especially telling as Samsung chose to return to other industry shows like National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2016 held at Las Vegas with dedicated large format displays for broadcast and LED video displays.

Despite Samsung’s absence, for other LCD display companies, super narrow bezel (SNB) video walls continue to be the focus. Several Chinese brands exhibited SNB displays. Tsingtoo showcased 1.4mm and 1.8mm bezel-to-bezel displays, Twinflag (a distributor for Vewell and Sharp) unveiled a 0.7mm bezel display from Vewell, and DET demonstrated 0.9mm bezel display.

There was also a great deal of excitement surrounding the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays exhibited by LGE, and transparent OLED by Leyard/Planar and Chinese brands Samplex and Viamax.

Fine pixel pitch LED video display companies like Leyard, Unilumin, Absen, Liantronics, and Aoto—five out of the top six brands according to IHS—took center stage at IFC this year, replacing LCD companies as the main exhibitors. All LED video brands exhibited fine pixel pitch products (<=1.99mm) boldly side-by-side with LCD digital signage displays and front projector and rear projection booths, allowing easy comparison. In the past, brands raced to flaunt the narrowest pixel pitch but now the differentiator is the total solution or system offered and the top brands are trying to specialize in different application markets.

Fighting the misconception of “projection is old technology,” projection brands were seen to be innovating in China. A marked difference at IFC China compared to Integrated Systems Europe (ISE 2016) and Digital Signage Expo (DSE 2016) is the high number of rear projection exhibits. Chinese brands launched new products such as rear projection with laser light source, ultra-narrow digital light processing (DLP) tiles at only 450mm thickness, and multi-point infrared touch capabilities, to compete with fine pixel pitch LED video and SNB LCD product launches. IHS believes that laser technology has the potential to be the game changer for the stagnant projection market. Laser light source allows instantaneous on/off, significantly increases the lifespan of projectors, and is much more efficient in producing desired color brightness, a wider color gamut, etc., compared to ultra-high-performance (UHP) lamps.

IHS observes that Chinese brands are catching up and offering innovative products using all display technologies at attractive prices. While the Chinese market indicates stable growth, the promise of higher profit margins will continue to motivate domestic brands to seek opportunities overseas.

Vinita Jakhanwal is a Senior Director for IHS Markit
Posted 5 May 2016

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