The end of Vutec

A sad note came by email over the weekend, the closure of the projection screen company Vutec.  I can’t recall the last time I saw the outright closure of a company in the A/V field; usually they’re bought out, or they merge, or their products are picked up by another firm with better funding or marketing.  But Vutec?  Simply gone.

I’ve got no inside information here and so am simply speculating, but Vutec was plainly in a tough spot.  The projection screen market has been shrinking, and the large manufacturers are diversifying.  But that takes finding, and filling, an underserved niche in the market; it’s a long term investment.  Not every firm has the resources or name recognition to achieve this, and not every firm has the vision.  In the end, Vutec’s products were largely undifferentiated from those of their competitors.

But projection systems, screens included, will be with us for a while.  Current circumstances aside, people will still need to gather and view large images, and not every project can support the heavy capital investment of video walls or the fixed nature of LCD panels.  And though screens aren’t sexy, and don’t fit what most people think of as “high tech,” there continue to be real advances in performance.

Vutec served the A/V community for more than 40 years, a family-run US manufacturer.  Yes, times have changed, but our industry still needs small firms with big ideas.  I hope I don’t see too many more announcements like this.