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The NAB Convention

I’m back from NAB and it was quite an experience. Since NAB focuses on broadcasting and dissemination of information on DVD and CD is a major part of the broadcast community, there were a significant number of people looking for duplication equipment. At the same time, with so many people looking for duplication equipment, there was a larger than average number of companies offering duplication equipment. Most shows we attend there are about a maximum of 5 companies exhibiting duplication equipment, this time there was at least 14 different companies.

With that many competitors, one would think this would be a difficult sell to vie for the throngs of patrons in need of such a product. However, we are uniquely position among the numerous exhibiters in that we supply or will supply over 60% of those companies with at least one version of our products. So it is in our best interest that not only do we gather greater interest at this show, but also that the companies that work with us also create a greater buzz, especially for the products we provide them.

Another thing I was hoping to see at this show is whether there was more momentum toward Blu-ray or HD DVD. The consensus is that all video is moving toward Hi Definition, but there is yet a clear consensus as to which format will win out. There of course was a lot of speculation, but that’s all it is at this point. In the duplication market, Blu-ray is leading because HD DVD does not even have a drive available yet. But the Blu-ray drives are in their infancy as well, so it’s not too late for HD DVD to jump into the mix. I never did get a clear answer that would lead me to declare either format the winner or eventual winner, so time will tell.

Looking forward to the NAB trade show

Fresh off the CeBIT trade show we are preparing to move full force back into another trade show next week. NAB is the National Association of Broadcasters and focuses on Radio and Television broadcasting and all aspects related to the industry. This is probably the most important trade show for our industry within North America and is evident by the number of companies in the duplicator profession who will exhibit there. Including Vinpower Digital, there will be at least 12 companies exhibiting that focus on optical disc duplication and/or printing.

Other companies my find this intimidating to have so many of their competitors within the same hall, but we are not the typical company. As a manufacture, many of those companies exhibiting are also our customers, so they are a unique blend of competition and cooperation for us. By diversifying our product line and working with a wide array of companies in the field, we are limiting our risk while increasing our overall volume. Since we have the ability to differentiate our equipment to provide unique operation or appearance for different companies, we are able to work with a wider segment of the industry without conflict.

The NAB trade show takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada from April 16th & 19th in the Las Vegas convention center. Anyone that would like to attend this year can do so for free by visiting the NAB website at www.nabshow.com/VIP, enter your profile, select ‘Exhibits Only’ information, and enter the VIP PASS CODE: KB1286. Please visit our booth in the South Hall lower level; Booth No. SL9908.

When it comes to Blu-Ray and HD DVD, companies are pulling out all the stops to come out on top!

With the growing competition between Blu-ray and HD DVD, LG has launched the very first high definition disc player called “Super Multi Blue” (BH-100 as its model name) that is compatible with both Blu-ray and HD DVD in early January at the consumer Electronics Show(CES) held in Las Vegas to seize the fire. But don’t go wave the white flag in the format war just yet. Videophiles find the player’s flaws that stop it from being just perfect.

This winner of a Best of CES award was certainly one big catch of the eye at the show event. As the rep demonstrate discs labeled with both Blu-ray and HD DVD watermark playing in the same set top box, throngs of press and exhibition goers gathered in front of LG’s booth to watch the impressive moments. As Dr. Hee Grook Lee, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics, explained, “the Super Multi Blue Player was developed to end the confusion caused by the current competition between Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD. Customers are no longer forced to choose between the two formats.” However, video gamers and TV fans might have different opinions.

Based on the recent review by TV fans, the Super Multi Blue Player doesn’t support interactive menus and some of the special video features like a HD DVD player do. The visual quality is good, according to the review writer, but not beyond expectation. With the retail price at $1,199, this player actually cost more than two cheaper Blu-Ray or HD DVD players. So unless you are strongly motivated to have one disc player instead of two, fans suggest waiting for more peace keepers in the HD format war to come.

CeBIT

Trade shows are a major focus for companies to showcase their products and attract new business. Recently, we exhibited at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany March 15 through 21, 2007. For those not familiar with this show, it is one of the largest electronics trade shows in the world with easily 500,000 ~ 750,000 visitors in a massive convention center covering over 26 separate halls. One could easily go into electronics overload at a show like this. CeBIT covers every possible electronic instrument from circuit boards to cars and yes, of course duplication equipment and blank media. We had a 25m3 booth with 4 members of our staff working at the show, including yours truly.

Most trade shows are only 4 days long, but due to the enormous size of this show, it is stretched over 7 days. This is a long haul to work at a trade show for 7 straight days and considering the distance we had to travel to get there (over 6,000 miles) it’s not so easy to just substitute employees and take a day off. Even though it can be draining, it’s a very rewarding show. It allows us to meet with most of our international distributors from all over the globe in one location. This is tremendously beneficial as to visit each one at their locations would not only be very expensive, but also far more time consuming than 7 days. Plus, with a minimum of 8 hours time difference between our corporate office and our closest European distributor, most business is conducted through emails. Often when I get into the office, most of our international distributors are preparing to go home or have long left the office.

In addition to being able to meet face to face with our international channel, attending this show gives us a much better insight into the international market and what their needs and habits are which may differ completely from our North American customer base. It’s amazing how different the culture can be from nation to nation. Buying habits, economies, technology level, environmental requirements, duties/taxes, and so much more can differentiate not just between the USA and the rest of the world but between even neighboring countries. How you would sell something in Germany may be completely different in France and visiting with these customers from around the world as they ask questions gives us an incredible insight into their psyche and buying habits.

In my next entry I’ll discuss more about what I saw and experienced at the show, but for now know that it was an incredible experience and even though it’s the 3rd time I’ve participated, each year I learn something new and gain a better perspective on how we can improve and grow as a company.