Planar Systems has been known for its display products for niche markets, such as medical applications. For a time, the company positioned itself to be a major player in the desktop PC monitor market. Then last fall, at the CEDIA 2006 conference in Denver, the company made a big splash with its announcement that it intended to go after the high-end HDTV enthusiast market. CEDIA is a show for custom installers and integrators, so it made sense that the company would use that event as the springboard for its new strategy.
Well, we may never know if they were impatient with their progress toward their goal, but two weeks ago the company announced that they had purchased Runco International. Runco is perhaps the leading custom installer company in the entire country, specializing in high-end home theater installations with six-figure front projectors and other top shelf components and features.
One point is clear from this development, however; it’s not as easy to break into the high-end HDTV retail market as it might seem. The established companies already have the important relationships with the home builders, architects, and designers who cater to the home buyers with the resources to make a high-end home theater part of their plans. These companies are already being squeezed hard by the big box stores who now provide bargain-priced installation services, which makes it more difficult than ever to get started. Consolidation and buyouts are likely to be increasingly common among the leading CEDIA dealers and related companies.