Minneapolis - Custom home theater projector manufacturer Runco announced at the recent CEDIA Expo that it had acquired the brand names and certain assets of its former major competitor, Vidikron, in an effort to broaden its retail distribution.
Company CEO Sam Runco said the Vidikron and Projectavision trademarks could soon be used on lines of video projectors priced lower than Runco models and directed at retailers that previously did not fit Runco's distribution requirements.
He told reporters he had long desired a means of expanding his company's distribution, but had been afraid to do anything that would damage the high regard his dealers have for Runco's products and programs.
While "nothing is laid in granite" at this point, Runco said he would like to use the new brands to "bridge the gap between high-end and mainstream," adding he has long envied Noel Lee, CEO of Monster Cable, for his ability to balance both ends of the trade without friction.
He said the Runco brand would remain an exclusive line for custom installers, capable of offering their customers complete service and support before and after the sale.
"I thought the Vidikron name, was a very, very good name at the customer level, but the perception of the company inside the industry was something less than that -- as it always is whenever a company goes broke," Runco said. "So, I saw a name that was important to nobody but me, because I could make it fit and we could broaden our world," Runco said.
He said Runco would market the new brands "under the Runco umbrella, because I think they need that association to grow.
"But who knows what happens in the future, a spin-off or whatever," he added.
Although still conceptualizing his strategy, Runco said "he could see building" the Projectavision brand in part using selective Internet sales, "without dirtying the pond for the other brands."
"In Internet sales, however, I would have to give a certain level of support -- whether it's swap-outs or whatever --in the same way we do with every other company," he added.
Runco said he pictures the three brands being positioned in a good, better, best structure, with Projectavision products placed "beneath both" Vidikron and Runco.
Runco vowed the product lines of each brand "will be very well defined, so our Runco dealers know how to sell against it."
He speculated that prices for Projectavision and Vidikron product could range anywhere from $500-$10,000.
"We really are talking about around the corner --maybe in another year -- there being an under $1,000 projector. Is Runco going there? I don't know, but it's coming up," he said.
He did vow that he would not introduce CRT-based products under the new lines.
Initial models planned for Vidikron include the 46W-inch VP-46 ("under $10,000) EDTV-level plasma display panel and the Vidikron Avanti DLP projector based on TI's Mustang/HD-2 chip. The projector will include a DVI interface, 900:1 contrast ratio, 1,000 ANSI lumens of brightness and will carry a $9,995 suggested retail price when its ships in October.
The first Projectavision model announced was the FP-3 "Formula Plus" three-panel widescreen LCD projector. The unit will feature 964x544 resolution, 700 ANSI lumens of brightness, 800:1 contrast ratio, 10-bit gamma correction and RGB, HD component, S-Video and composite video inputs.
Runco plans to show initial product entries for each brand at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.