Developing a Business in Optical PTV Engines
Playing the Role of Integrator to Spur Growth in the LCD Rear-Projection TV Market
Around 1990 Nissei Sangyo Co., Ltd., the predecessor of Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation, started development and sales of optical components for front projection systems, with television manufacturers such as Hitachi, Ltd. as the intended customers. While working to open up the optoelectronics market, Hitachi High-Technologies was approached in 2001 by Company A of South Korea with an inquiry regarding optical components for LCD rear-projection TVs. This marked the beginning of an important new market.
In those days there were no manufacturers who could propose and supply all the necessary optical components to customers on their own. Hitachi High-Technologies offered to sell lenses, PBSes, and mirrors as a set, and succeeded in getting the order. Convinced that the LCD rear-projection TV market was poised to expand, Hitachi High-Technologies worked with Company B, one of its suppliers, to plan and develop an LCD optical engine for standard rear-projection TVs. This was adopted by customers including Company C of South Korea and went into mass production in 2002.
Then, around 2002, a rapid shift from the earlier CRT-based system to a digital system employing micro-devices began to take place in the rear-projection TV market in the United States. Hitachi High-Technologies suggested switching from the existing 1.2-inch LCD to a 0.87-inch LCD offering cost advantages. The smaller LCDs were eventually adopted by customers including Company A and also Hitachi, Ltd., which had been using a CRT-based system.
Hitachi High-Technologies posted optical specialists to South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and other countries so that they could stay in close contact with suppliers and customers, providing detailed troubleshooting when needed. In 2004 Hitachi High-Technologies became one of the leading suppliers of optical engines by market share.
Producing optical components involves a high level of specialization, and it is difficult for a single manufacturer to offer comprehensive solutions to customers. By functioning as an integrator Hitachi High-Technologies has helped the LCD rear-projection TV market to expand.