There is an emerging trend that many of you have already noticed. It’s the convergence of the HomeAV market and the ProAV market.
For example, hasn’t it become a lot easier to tell your neighbors what you do for a living?
HDTV and the need for higher resolution displays in the home have driven the trend. In fact, more plasmas have been sold into the home than through the ProAV distribution channel.
Last week, a friend of mine walked up to me at Cold Stone Creamery and asked me what DVI was. I was shocked. Not only has DVI become the standard for video connectivity in the HD home, its sales in the HomeAV world are four times more than DVI sales in the ProAV world. And DVI is a connector and digital connectivity standard that we in the ProAV world have had since 1999, yet hardly anyone uses it. Most of us specify and design systems the old-fashioned way â€“ via VGA analog signals using coax.
So, what’s going on here? Is the HomeAV world driving the ProAV world?
That’s the trend I want to address here.
Before the debut of the DVD player in the consumer world in 1997, virtually every consumer electronics product came through our market first. Think about it. Where were video cameras used first? Heck, where was video used first? The VCR? S-video? But, since the introduction of the DVD player entered the consumer world a good three years ahead of the professional market, everything else has followed this apparent trend.
Well, consider TiVo and the whole concept of the digital VCR, or DVR (digital video recorder). For less than $150, you can go to Circuit City or Best Buy and acquire an 80-hour MPEG2 (DVD-quality) recording device that my 4-year-old can use. Seriously. How much would that cost you to duplicate in the average training room install? Imagine being able to tell every client that you can design the room so that every training session they hold can be automatically recorded and archived for playback anywhere in the world â€“ all for a $150 investment and a mere $5 a month. Well, that’s basically TiVo.
And, what about MP3 audio? Sure, we’ve had digital audio for years here in the ProAV world, but the power of the MP3 format and what it holds for the world is in the hands of the consumer channel at the moment â€“ not the ProAV channel.
What else? Well, heck there’s a watch out there from a company called Wherify that’s enabled with GPS technology. This means that whoever is wearing it can be found 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in a matter of nine seconds and within three meters of location. All for $199!
Anyone who rents equipment for a living can see the value of this technology. Imagine embedding Wherify technology into your rental fleet of projectors and totally eliminating theft.
So, what’s going on here? Is this something to be alarmed about if you’re in ProAV? No, not really. In fact, I believe it’s a good thing.
It’s a good thing because we now see the path of technology before us. We aren’t blindsided with new technology and new products that we never saw coming â€“ thus rendering our old installs and rental inventory useless. We KNOW what’s coming. All the stuff in the hands of the consumer will be in our hands one day. Certainly it means that we don’t drive technology and technological innovation like the consumer does now, but there’s no question we will still take advantage of it for our clients. We will have all the same stuff, eventually.
But, as you have heard me say, time and time again, the value in this is NOT the widget itself â€“ it’s the support and service behind it. You really need to move your organization into profitable services as a primary model â€“ rather than a model to support product sales. A simple rule-of-thumb: can your company survive if you did away with your product sales team? In other words, is your business model profitable enough to support your organization on systems design, programming and install?
Gary Kayye, founder of Kayye Consulting, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He is best known as an accurate and candid visionary, and is often called upon to deliver seminars and speeches and to write feature articles and editorials that help AV manufacturers and systems integrators understand the future of their businesses, as well as how to prepare for that future. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound and Communications Magazine.
Mr. Kayye is currently a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients include companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi and Philips.