Projection goliath Epson celebrates 70th anniversary

posted on Thursday, 14th June 2012 by Steve May

projectors  Epson 

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Epson celebrated its 70th anniversary with a predictably swish London soiree last night that put its projection business firmly centre stage. Inside Ci took the opportunity to catch up with the brand's senior management team, to get both a snapshot of its current business, as well as an insight into the history of the brand.

Tony Petford, the brand's Vice president of Sales believes the company is celebrating its birthday from a position of strength, but concedes that "2011 was a very bad year for us" thanks to a confluence of natural disasters and economic pressures. "That horrible Tsunami had a big effect on our production," he reveals "exasperated by the floods in Thailand -there are a huge amount of Japanese component suppliers in Thailand. As a result, we had very few products to sell. Yet despite that, we still managed to find our way through to 25 per cent market share in projectors."

The company began life in 1942 as a watch components manufacturer named Daiwa Kogyo in the Japanese city of Suwa (likened to Bradford by Petford). With a staff of just nine, it operated out of a modified Miso storehouse. The brand now has 75,000 employees in 97 companies around the world. "Making those specialist watch parts is the most important part of our heritage," says Petford. "We became very good at making small, electro-mechanical devices."

The Epson brand itself didn't appear until June 1975. The monicker was derived from its first digital printer, the EP101, launched in 1968. The company literally became the "Son of the Electronic Printer." Since then, it has notched up several milestone products, including the first quartz timepiece small enough to fit on a wrist, the Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ (1969), and the first surface mounted crystal oscillator (1987). Epson has since grown to become the world's biggest projector maker. 

According to category manager Graeme Davidson, that success is down to "its ownership of technology." Epson is one of the top five companies with patents registered in Japan, he reveals.  "A lot of money is spent on R&D. We also understand who our customers are, what they need and what they expect. We have a total vision."

According to business sales director Neil Colquhoun, "One in every four presentations is now done on an Epson projector." That level of confidence comes from having a reputation for reliability and "really good service support," he says. "Our channel partners know they can rely on the quality of our aftersales. Our big corporate customers have one hour, six hour or eight hour SLAs (service level agreements)."

Unsurprisingly, the team from Epson are predictably tight-lipped about what to expect at IFA 2012. "I don't think we'll be seeing anything dramatically different - but what we have is exciting," teases Davidson. "You can always be guaranteed that the guys in Japan are working on something that will take Transmissive LCD projection to another level. There are so many projects going on in the background…"

For more visit our Epson partner page here.
Also read:
Epson EH-TW6000W review
On the road with Epson

Issue one of the Inside CI iPad magazine is now available for free download from the Apple iBook store

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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