C’mon Over Baby… A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On

The East Coast Earthquake and Social Media’s Omnipresence

So, I’m sitting here in my living room this afternoon, working on an upcoming rAVe article on Safety Standards when suddenly the entire house starts shaking. The windows rattle, as do the plates in the china cupboard and the frames and decorations on the walls. Having experienced a 3.6 magnitude earthquake here in Maryland last summer, I recognized the rumbling and rattling, so I put down the laptop, grabbed my phone and headed to the nearest doorway. I was joined moments later by one freaked-out West Highland White Terrier who’d been digging around the backyard when the backyard apparently took umbrage!

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Little Fish Tales, volume 2: THE SKY IS FALLING! Well, maybe…

The Economy, US Credit Downgrade and Little Fish

I was working on a new Little Fish Tales (on dealing with manufacturers as a Little Fish… stay tuned!) when news broke on Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the US Credit Rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time ever. As the economy has been on everyone’s mind for the past, oh, 3 or 4 years anyways, I felt it important to postpone the other topic and address this one.

So, how has the economy been treating us Little Fish?  Anecdotally, we’re taking a beating. Corporate installs have slowed to a trickle over the past two years and competition for the government and education projects has skyrocketed. Big Fish who never bothered with some of the smaller projects that kept Little Fish fed are suddenly circling them with a hungry gleam in their eyes, while new players join the battle from other ponds – residential AV, security, telecom, IT.  One #AVTweep who participated in the February 2011 #AVChat on ‘The Economy’ said, “(We) started doing smaller jobs we normally wouldn’t have messed with.” It is becoming harder and harder for the Little Fish integrator to get a nibble.

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Mid-Summer Mélange

As we begin the hot, steamy month of August, here’s a hodge-podge of observations that’ve been on my mind thus far this summer:

  • Infocomm (the show) is an entirely different world for exhibitors than it is for attendees! This was the first year I worked a booth, and it was crazy. Late nights setting up the booth, early mornings and long hours manning it, late afternoon tearing down. Not to mention, missing almost the entire rest of the show while focused on one tiny bit of real estate on the show floor. Seriously, I have sooooo much more respect for all of my manufacturer friends after this experience! Of course, I also hope to never have to go through that again! Me, I’ll take integration any day. *nods sagely*

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Little Fish Tales, volume 1: Size Matters

Welcome to Little Fish Tales.

I have decided that I will periodically devote some of my blog space to real world tales from the small integrator – some rants, some raves, some random observations – all from the perspective of the little guy. In future editions of Little Fish Tales, I’ll share some of the vexation of dealing with manufacturers, the heartburn of bidding against the big guys, the struggle of differentiating oneself from the more disreputable little guys, and the frustrations of trying to grow and thrive in the big pond without getting eaten by the big fish. Of course, I’ll also talk about some of the benefits and blessings of being the little guy that the big guys might envy. Before getting to all that, however, let’s talk about the word “little.” After all, size matters!

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A Contrarian’s View of the 3-D Craze

Bah-Humbug!

Okay, so I’m not generally one to buck industry trends entirely, but I have to say, I’m simply not on this 3-D bandwagon. Since 2008, we’ve been inundated with 3-D as the be-all, end-all of coming AV display trends. At the 2010 Infocomm, you couldn’t swing a swagbag without smacking a 3-D projector, 3-D flat-panel display, or 3-D player for those displays. This week’s CES event headlines are also 3-D heavy: “Tablets, Dual-Core Phones and 3-D Cameras: 2011’s Hottest Gadget Trends” – “What to Expect from CES 2011: Androids, Tablets And 3D TVs” – “How Blu-ray Could Speed Up 3D TV Adoption” – and so on. In fact, 3-D mania has even invaded kids’ games and telephones, with 3-D handheld video game systems and 3-D screen smartphones on sale or on the way to store shelves. It’s everywhere. So why am I bucking the 3-D trend? Well, there are several reasons.

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Convergence, Nothing – That’s Commoditization!

IT takes square-aim at the AV Integration market. Enough’s enough!

So, the other evening, I’m sitting at home relaxing with my husband-slash-business partner when he looks up from his laptop with an outraged mien and exclaims, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” (or slightly more profane words to that effect). Of course, I ask, “What’s up?” and he directs me to the Dell website, where, amongst an ever-increasing list of AV products and services being sold by this computer giant, we spied the magic word: Crestron. This morning, a tweet from RAVE news pointed out that CDW, another IT monster, is also selling Crestron… direct to end users… at a single-digit markup. To quote Slim Pickins, “What in the wide wide world of sports is a-goin’ on here??”

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The $3 Billion Elephant in the Room

Is this the end of the VTC world as we know it? *shrug* I feel fine…

Do you feel hear that massive rumbling? It’s the sound of a sudden, major paradigm shift in the A/V world that will have major ramifications for our industry in the months and years to come. Last night, September 30th, 2009, Cisco made an offer of $2.97 billion to purchase Tandberg. The biggest name in IT is now in the process of acquiring one of the biggest names in videoconferencing and, if approved by the Tandberg shareholders, stands to be a game-changing event for our industry. The gradual AV/IT Convergence of the past 5-10 years just exploded forward in a single explosive move. There is a lot to discuss and ponder if this deal goes through.

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