Paul Butler has been at the forefront of the display technology market for more than twenty years. We’ve known him since his time in charge of Iiyama in the days of the legendary 17″ VisionMaster Pro. We recently caught up with Paul and wanted to know his thoughts on where the market is today and where it’s headed.
At the end of 2013, KitGuru wrote up its annual awards article – looking back at the best of the best from the previous 12 months – and we settled on the AOC Q2963PM as our choice in the value segment. Rolling the clock forward 12 months, AOC picked up the best value monitor again, this time for the AOC U2868PQU. For a company that wasn’t really on the enthusiasts radar five years ago, this is a pretty impressive feat.
Paul is a hardcore motobike enthusiast, but we started off by asking Paul to explain a bit about AOC’s background – where the company comes from.
He said “AOC started life as Admiral Overseas Corporation in 1934 making TVs”, he said. “By the end of the 1980’s they had become the worlds largest manufacturer of colour monitors and achieved the global number 1 for LCDs in 2004”.
OK, we definitely didn’t know that. So is it just desktop products?
“Among the portfolio of product are LCD monitors for both desktop and large format”, he explained. “As well as Android tablets, All-in-One devices and, in many countries, mobile phones”.
So they’ve been around for 80 years, so does AOC make any unique products?
“In the displays market it is difficult to say you have unique products as new standards and platforms tend to be adopted very quickly”, he told us. “What we do have is a mix of design and style that users desire – combined with features that help our products stand out from the crowd”.
OK, so no unique products as such. Why would someone choose AOC, what’s the advantage?
“Our products combine speed, performance and value for money – alongside channel support that’s second to none in this market”, said Paul.
We wanted to know where AOC stands on the new synchronisation technologies, G-Sync Vs FreeSync.
“As a company, we have no specific position”, said Paul. “Our aim is to create products which will give the best gaming experience for the users. We anticipate that Freesync will become more of a standard than G-Sync due to the additional cost and circuitry required but will support both standards”.
What kind of range does AOC offer? For example, what kind of price spread?
“At the high end, we have the U3477PQU close to £599”, he explained. “That’s a 34″ WQHD screen for serious users”.
What about the ‘affordable’ end of the market? What can AOC offer users who don’t want to spend hundreds on 4K etc?
“I don’t think affordability should be gauged on price alone”, Paul mused. “Having a full feature set is just as important. Sure, we have an entry level 18.2″ screen for £69, but if a customer can get as far as £129, then everything changes. At that point, we have the i2369VM display, which has all of the ports you’ll need and a 23″ IPS screen”.
What about colour options?
“Most people choose black”, Paul added. “That’s true for gamers and home hi-fi enthusiasts, but we also make screens with silver bezels”.
Which trends in the market (if any) are likely to have the biggest impact on AOC over the next two years?
“The development of ultra high resolution screens with 4K or higher than 1440 QHD displays”, he said. “Graphics cards and 4K development will drive this market and bring down the cost for all users”.
Who is the most likely AOC customer? Are all of your sales business-to-consumer?
“We supply both business and retail customers”, he explained. “However I would say more than 60% of our supplies are to consumers. We do have a very extensive range of products for business including height adjustable stands, USB hubs and high quality screen attributes for imaging and display work”.
Which product are you most impressed with in the AOC line up?
“The U3477PQU – I’ve got one on my desk and will never ever change it!”.
Emphatic stuff, but what about the man behind the company? We asked Paul about his background and how he came to be involved with AOC.
How long have you been with AOC?
“Started in 2011 and currently been here for 4 years”.
What was your first job out of school/college?
“I did a 4 year apprenticeship in Telecommunication engineering”.
What was your first computer?
“The old BBC Micro!”
Do you game – if so, what is your favorite?
“I love strategy games – so Sid Meyers Civ 4/5”
Imagine you are driving along the Pacific California Highway on a perfect day. If you could be driving any car, with any person with any music, what would that combination be?
“Right now, an F type Jag convertible with Knights of Cydonia by Muse on the speakers and Mila Kunis in the passenger seat!”
If you want to impress your friends – what do YOU cook?
“Indian curry every time”
What do you love eating – that you can’t cook from scratch – so you always have to order it from a restaurant?
If you could invent anything – what would it be?
“Never ending coffee machine that you don’t have to fill up every 30 minutes”.
KitGuru says: Big thank you to Paul for taking the time to answer our questions and give us a little insight into AOC as a company.