November 21, 2012 By Mark Coxon
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the year, a time to give thanks for all the blessings you have received. It is traditionally a time of gratitude and appreciation.
Unfortunately, some also take the opportunity to air grievances that would make even Festivus inventor Frank Costanza proud.
With that, I offer up five blessings and five ways our industry made a turkey out of itself in 2012.
Blessing: New Products. In 2012 a few new products came into the mainstream that may turn out to be the future of A/V distribution. HDBaseT and Audio Video Bridging (AVB) show promise in leveraging standards-based protocols and existing network infrastructures.
Turkey: New Competition. Residential integration firms continued to flood the commercial market, some with little ability to perform, causing a downward shift in the industry’s quality as a whole.
Blessing: Infocomm Attendance. I have to admit being wrong about the possible death of industry trade shows. Right after I mentioned trade shows may be on the decline, Infocomm posted record attendance.
Turkey: InfoComm Training. InfoComm’s CTS and CAVSP programs still failed to grade integrators based on results. They are still trusting a vow to do well and the good intentions of integration firms. I think a road to somewhere was paved with those wasn’t it?
Blessing: Streaming Video. Video teleconferencing (VTC) and unified communications (UC) continued to grow, as well as Livecasting and Podcasting. As such, the video streaming codec hardware and software solution markets have been strong. Products that lower the barriers to adoption and use existing protocols and soft codecs, like Vaddio’s Easy USB gear, seem to be the future of ubiquitous communication.
Turkey: Bandwidth Charges. Data rates have been increasing as more and more devices go on the network. We have seen this first in the cellular networks, but it is coming to a hard wired connection near you in the near future. These networks were not made for the amount of traffic they are about to see, and infrastructure upgrade costs will be passed on. Watch for the Internet tax to be implemented soon as well to pay for upgrades.
Blessing: Tablet Popularity. The iPad started changing the game at it’s introduction into the market a few years ago by changing the paradigm of control panels. The continued popularity and increased adoption of tablets has made the touchscreen a defacto expectation, which opens up tons of possibilities for integrators in the digital signage and retail arenas.
Turkey: Microsoft’s Surface Tablet. The idea is great, but with a different version of the Windows 8 OS, there is not enough to make the Surface tablet an iPad killer, even for PC users. Even my 3-, 6-, and 9-year-old kids were confused about how to operate the Surface and begged to leave to go to the Disney store.
Blessing: Case Studies. 2012 was full of new case studies, amazing demonstrations of A/V in architecture and entertainment, and of seeing integrators dig in and do well in a tough economy, even finding ways to help each other in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Turkey: HDMI, still. Even the obscure and eccentric Lightning connector doesn’t like you. Your incompetence has single-handedly delayed the analog sunset. Can you please keep yourself plugged in and allow your signal to be extended consistently? For a guy who is all about the handshake, frankly you stink at it. Digital had so much promise to improve our lives, but instead HDMI, in true Of Mice and Men style, plays its Lennie to 3G-SDI’s George, who eventually has to take his well meaning but misguided friend out and shoot him for killing everything he touches.