ViewSonic Corporation History
Walnut, California 91789
Telephone: (909) 444-8888
Toll Free: 800-888-8583
Fax: (909) 468-1202
Incorporated: 1987 as Keypoint Technology Corporation
Sales: $1.1 billion (2003)
NAIC: 334110 Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing; 334111 Electronic Computer Manufacturing; 334119 Other Computer Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing; 334310 Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing
ViewSonic is committed to meeting and exceeding its customers' expectations in quality, value and innovation. Its ability and dedication to deliver products to the market ahead of its competition remains a primary focus of the company. Unlike some of its competitors, ViewSonic is exclusively devoted to the visual display products business, which enables the company to better focus its resources.
- James Chu founds Keypoint Technology Corporation.
- Keypoint Technologies introduces the ViewSonic brand of color computer monitors.
- Viewsonic forms a strategic alliance with Optiquest.
- Midwich Thame becomes the company's European distributor.
- Viewsonic partners with Microgobal Argentina SA to distribute its products in South America and acquires the display products unit of Finland's Nokia.
- The company purchases Advanced Optical Engineering Inc. of California; the new subsidiary is renamed Advanced Digital Optics Inc.
- ViewSonic collaborates with MeshNetworks Inc.
- The company sells Advanced Digital Optics, Inc. to JDS Uniphase.
ViewSonic Corporation is a leading provider of cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display (LCD) computer monitors, including those for high-end, computer-aided design, desktop publishing, and graphic design, and those offering state-of-the art technology at affordable prices. ViewSonic has six distinct product lines: desktop displays; television/entertainment displays; plasma displays; projectors; mobile and wireless displays; and peripherals, such as speakers, keyboards, and mice.
Specialist to International Presence: 1987 to the Early 1990s
In 1987, James Chu launched Keypoint Technology Corporation, a distribution company that specialized in computer peripherals, such as power supplies, keyboards, and computer monitors. Chu, a native of Taiwan, had held a variety of sales positions before immigrating to the United States in 1986 to become president of United States operations for a Taiwanese keyboard manufacturer.
The early 1990s saw a decrease in personal computer prices, a proliferation of high-end workstations, the growing use of graphical interfaces, and increased corporate demand for monitors with lower radiation emissions, higher refresh rates, and better ergonomics. In keeping with the times, in 1990 Keypoint Technologies introduced the ViewSonic brand of color computer monitors in two series, professional and graphics. The monitors were especially suited for Windows, graphical user interfaces, and desktop publishing environments. ViewSonic also introduced its "green" monitor, which conformed to the energy conservation guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency's Star Program. The company adopted the mission and focus of developing and delivering affordable advanced visual display products and changed its name to ViewSonic. Its new logo, three colorful finches, was intended to symbolize innovation, quality, and value.
ViewSonic experienced a steady demand for its monitors, and in 1992 Inc. magazine included the firm in its fastest-growing companies list. A year later, with revenues of just over $100 million, the company began to branch out internationally, joining with Al Ghurair Enterprises for Computers to distribute ViewSonic products in the United Arab Emirates. Further expansion occurred in 1994 both domestically and internationally with the addition of two new regional sales offices in Tampa Bay, Florida, and Chicago, Illinois, and two new European offices, one in Paris and the other in Dusseldorf.
Diversification: The Mid-1990s
During the second half of the 1990s, View Sonic turned its attention to strengthening its European operations in response to increased demand for its color monitors. As part of its bid to become a major player in the European display technology market, it improved its customer, technical, and coordination services throughout Europe, including free, life-time technical support. By 1996, ViewSonic offered the widest range of monitors available from a single manufacturer in the European market, and by 1998 it was undisputedly a European leader in the color monitor market.
At the same time, ViewSonic was expanding its product lines. It entered the multimedia market in 1994 with the introduction of speakers and its first in a line of multimedia monitors. The company also formed a strategic alliance with Optiquest, a major supplier of monitors and uninterruptible power supplies in 1995. Under the terms of the alliance, Optiquest's monitors became ViewSonic's value line, and the two companies united their sales and marketing efforts. The alliance meant that ViewSonic now offered four lines of monitors: professional, multimedia, graphics, and economy.
Growth in ViewSonic's range of products and global distribution was paralleled by increases in its annual revenues and number of employees. Between 1993 and 1997, the company's workforce grew from 84 to more than 600 in number, while revenues increased 716 percent to $830 million. In fact, the increase in revenues from 1996 to 1997 alone totaled 48 percent as ViewSonic became the nation's top producer of branded computer monitors, displacing NEC, the former market leader in 1997. The company's increased sales also reflected its entrance into the projector market in 1997. By 1998, ViewSonic's range of liquid crystal display and cathode ray tube monitors exceeded 20 in number.
In 1998, Inc., Forbes, Deloitte & Touche, and the Los Angeles Business Journal all recognized ViewSonic as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. VAR Business attributed its ongoing success to several factors. While still known for its competitive pricing and extensive low- to high-end product line, the company's products received highest rankings for image quality, reliability, cross-platform capability, ease of screen control and nonstandard features, and vendor support. It had also established a distribution sales model that involved creating regional service centers. In 1998, it added to this system with a center in Duluth, Minnesota, to serve resellers and end-users throughout the eastern United States and signed up Midwich Thame as its European distributor specializing in its higher end products. By the end of the decade, despite some complaints that the company had not kept pace with other companies in lowering its prices on monitors and other equipment and that it was experiencing some slip-ups in quality, ViewSonic was one of the top three monitor providers in the branded LCD market in Europe.
Continued Expansion and Success in the Late 1990s and Beyond
ViewSonic's focus on continued expansion both domestically and internationally paid off. In 1999, revenues reached $1 billion, and ViewSonic joined with Dell in a marketing campaign to promote its monitors coupled with Dell systems. It also attempted to capture market share in the ultralight category of presentation products with its full-size projection screen with self-contained LCD projector. The introduction coincided with a precipitous increase in sales of ultralight projectors. While projectors in general increase by a third in 1998, they simultaneously tripled in the ultralight category.
By 2000, ViewSonic had achieved 15 percent share of the LCD monitor market and 13.5 percent share of the CRT monitor market in the United States with $1.3 billion in annual sales. It was the fifth-largest seller of computer monitors in the country behind Dell, Compaq, Gateway, and Hewlett-Packard. The trend in the computer display market in the early years of the new century was a move from CRT to LCD, according to James Chu in a 2001 VAR Business article, a move for which his company was prepared. "ViewSonic is the market leader in North America for the CRT, and we want to be the leader for LCDs in North America, too." Worldwide, ViewSonic delivered more than one million LCD monitors in 2002 and that number more or less doubled in 2003.
The company began reaching for the high-end monitor market with the 2001 acquisition of the display products unit of Finland's Nokia, Europe's display specialist, and also moved into the market for hand-held Internet access devices with ten versions of wireless handhelds. In so doing, ViewSonic hoped to leverage its strong position in displays since a handheld's screen accounted for as much as 75 percent of its value.
ViewSonic moved forward in the field of projectors as well. In 2001, it purchased Advanced Optical Engineering Inc. of California, a company that made optical equipment and light engines for use in digital projection displays. The new subsidiary, renamed Advanced Digital Optics Inc., continued to develop equipment for IMAX, JVC, and Prokia, while also developing light engines for digital projections displays for its parent company. The acquisition also put ViewSonic in a position to partner with Cogent Technologies, a company with a broad array of patented, energy efficient methods for light delivery, including novel uses of plastic fiber optics, to produce brighter, higher-resolution, lower-cost displays for computer monitors and high-definition and smart televisions.
Other product developments included the 2000 introduction of a phone with touch sensitive screen and Web browsing capabilities and the 2002 introduction of high-definition monitors using rear projection technology for computers or high-definition televisions. ViewSonic also collaborated with MeshNetworks Inc., a developer of mobile broadband networking technology to develop and market PDAs and tablet PCs with high-speed Internet access. In 2003, ViewSonic introduced its portable video player, which combined an MP3 player, digital photo album, and portable DVD player.
ViewSonic also continued its penetration into the global marketplace. Having entered the Chinese mainland in the late 1990s, it formed several alliances with partners in Taiwan to expand its presence in the information appliance market there in 2000. "About a decade ago, we promised to surpass NEC Corp. as the No. 1 monitor brand in the U.S., and we did it," chairman and chief executive Chu recalled in a Taiwan Economic News article in 2000. "By forming strategic alliances with firms in Taiwan [to manufacture LCD modules], we will be well-positioned to out-gun Sony, Panasonic, and other top monitor makers in the global market." Aiming to enhance its presence in South America as well, it joined with Microgobal Argentina SA as the official distributor of its products in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela in 2003.
As ViewSonic's leadership looked to the future, it foresaw a shift toward wireless and mobile capability for the personal computer accompanied by the use of multiple smart displays. It set itself the goal of continuing to lead the "visual revolution" as the "world moved from analog to digital and from PC-centric to display-centric," where the display, as the focal point for access to and control of information or entertainment, might be on the desk, on the wall, or in hand. ViewSonic sold Advanced Digital Optics, Inc. to JDS Uniphase in 2004. It entered the home networking market in 2004 with the release of wireless equipment that included media gateways and adapters.
Principal Subsidiaries: ViewSonic Europe Ltd.; ViewSonic Canada.
Principal Competitors: Acer; ADI Systems; Apple Computer; BenQ; Daewoo International; Dell; Fujitsu; Gateway; Hewlett-Packard; InFocus; LG Electronics; LG Philips LCD; Matsushita; Mitsubishi Corporation; NEC; NEC-Mistubishi Electrical Visual Systems; palmOne; Philips North America; Philips Electronics; Planar Systems; Princeton Digital; Samsung Electronics; Sharp; Sony.
- Kaplan, Karen, "Computing's Next Big Thing: For James Chu, the Next Step Is to Transform Monitors into Net Appliances," Financial Post, March 30, 2000.
- Pepe, Michelle, "ViewSonic Strong in All Areas," Computer Reseller News, June 21, 1999, p. C 51.
- Schick, Shane, "ViewSonic Projects Big Market for Office Theater Portables, Computer Dealer News, July 23, 1999, p. 18.
- Stafford, Jane, "ViewSonic Monitors Paint a Winning Picture: Tops in Products/Pricing and Support," VAR Business, November 15, 1997, p. 128.
- "ViewSonic Builds Ties with Taiwan Firms," Taiwan Economic News, September 22, 2000.
- Walker, Meg, "Q & A with President and CEO James Chu," VAR Business, October 1, 2001, p. 115.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.72. St. James Press, 2005.