Volume 14, Issue 19 — October 11, 2017
By Mark Coxon
It’s funny how ideas work. Two years ago, I started a draft of this blog about curve jumping. I wrote an opening paragraph and then stopped. It sat in the catacombs of the site, waiting to be dug up again or lost forever.
If you’re not familiar with the term curve jumping you should be. In any business there is an S-curve of revenue growth in which a business starts out slowly, grows rapidly until it approaches market saturation, and then levels off.
The secret of high performing companies however is that they learn how to jump the curve.
“By jumping these three-curves early, while the core business continues to thrive, companies lay the foundation for a successful leap to a new financial S-curve later – and for lasting greatness by executing a series of these moves.”
(If you want a quick and simple overview of this idea, check out Accenture’s take on it here)
A business has to be willing to abandon a business that is still in essence doing well and make the jump to a new one in order to continue their growth. That can be hard.
Part of the difficulty in jumping the curve is knowing where you are jumping to. You can’t stick the landing if you’re just spinning in a circle and leaping with your eyes closed. That ends in disaster. So how do you know where to jump?
Unfortunately, the way most businesses evolve is through small, incremental changes, usually made at a point where they are long overdue. A business experiences a pain point or a decrease in revenue, they “go back to basics” and “double down” trying to outwork the problem before finally coming to terms with the fact that change is necessary. The inertia of the past is often too great. “I’ve been doing it this way for 30 years” is a common mantra. That may mean the change is long overdue. Ever wonder why businesses do five year plans?
Given all this, most businesses grow through their S-Curve, level off and then either hit a decline or make just enough small changes to stay flat. Their business looks pretty much as it did when they started.
If you really want to jump the curve as a business owner you can’t operate this way. You have to ask yourself,
“If I were to go into business TODAY, what kind of business would I build?”
In doing so, you need to act as if you’re starting from scratch. You can’t let you current client base, business structure, pricing, etc. influence what your ideal business in today’s market would look like. Then once you have that ideal, you put it down on paper alongside your existing business and come up with a plan that allows you to move from one to the other.
Investments vs. Sunk Costs
Part of creating your transition plan is being able to differentiate between investments and sunk costs.
Think about your closet. Do you have a $100 pair of shows you never wear or an expensive suit that will most likely never fit you again? Odds are, the reason you hold on to that item is because you paid a substantial amount for it. In your head, it is worth that money. In reality, it is worth $0 to you, as there is no utility in it.
A sunk cost is the money you put into something that you no longer get any benefit from. On the other hand, an investment is something you’ve put money into that has future value.
When looking at the current business, it can be hard to let go of pieces of the business you have invested a lot of time and money in. The way to make decisions on what parts of the business stay and what parts go during this transition is to be brutally honest about their future value.
Of course the profits from the current business fuel the transition to the next jump. This is why it’s imperative to jump early. You need the profits from the growth stage of the first curve to finance the start of the next curve. If you wait too long, the business is struggling to stay flat and there is no longer a revenue engine to supply the needed fuel.
A great example of a company that has successfully navigated three S curves like this is Netflix. First it acquired a strong customer base with its DVD-by-mail rental business, utilizing the profits as that business grew to build out its streaming service and acquire digital rights to content. Then the company separated the rental by mail business from the streaming services by creating two different pay structures, allowing the rental business to fade as the streaming business continued to grow. Then it used the profits from their growing streaming business to fuel the studio business, creating original content that can populate Netflix’s library without having to negotiate fees and windows of digital content owned by others. It’s a shining example of how continuing to jump to the next curve keeps the business growing.
The good news is that we have some curve jumping happening in AV right now it would seem too.
One example that stands out to me is Origin Acoustics. At CEDIA this year, Origin released a new multi-channel Valet Amplifier that is designed specifically to turn an array of Amazon Echo Dots into a whole house audio system. A unique feature is the amplifier’s patent-pending voice override system that mutes zones to allow the Dots to hear voice commands. Origin also introduced an in-ceiling mount for the Dot to let it be integrated into the ceiling, mirroring the look of architectural speakers already in the space. If you didn’t get to CEDIA or see the press releases, you can take a look at it here.
The interesting thing about the Valet Amplifier is that it utilizes an RJ45 and a Cat5/6 to carry power to the Dot and also to carry line level signal from the Dot’s audio output back to the amplifier.
For those of you thinking that low voltage power and line level audio over Cat5/6 sounds familiar, it does. It’s essentially A-Bus.
Origin Acoustics took what could’ve been considered a sunk cost, experience in A-Bus technology, and turned it into an investment in creating new smart home accessory products.
The company timed the release of Valet perfectly, just as Amazon released the ability to sync multiple Dots together to create a multi-room audio system, which eliminates the need for a traditional multi-zone audio switcher. This allows users to get high fidelity audio through installed speakers, powered by a traditional amplifier, all while utilizing the UI that they already know, being Alexa.
One new product alone is not typically indicative of a curve jump, but in Origin’s case, if you look deeper you see the beginnings of one.
I asked Joe Whitaker, who designed the Valet Amp with Origin Acoustics CEO Jeremy Burkhardt, about their product and he confirmed that from the start, they designed the Valet Amplifier to be agnostic. The Valet Amplifier can really be used with any device that requires USB power and has a line level audio output, meaning that it could be the heart of an audio system driven by future iterations of Google Home, Josh AI, iPads, etc.
The Valet Amplifier and its unique voice override features can really be used across platforms. The only product actually specific to Echo Dot itself is the in-ceiling mount, and I have a feeling Origin will soon be creating in-wall and in-ceiling mounting systems for several other voice controlled, smart home products as well.
It’s a jump from the traditional world of multi-zone audio amplifiers with proprietary keypads for control, to the world of voice controlled, connected devices and mounting accessories that leverages investments and strengths in speaker technology and amplification as well as A-Bus to fuel the jump to the next curve.
The former AV trade association InfoComm also recently rebranded itself as AVIXA, a move that was accompanied by a strategic plan to jump the curve form a hardware driven AV association, to one focusing on greater collaboration with an extended network of professionals to create experiences. There was some criticism around the change, mostly citing that the InfoComm moniker was still strong… but maybe that means it was the right time to jump. My thoughts on that are here if you didn’t see them.
If you’re an AV company out there that is still experiencing strong growth in your market segment, you should already be looking at what the next growth curve will be. Once you decide that, determine the type of business that you would need to have to best capitalize on that curve. Then come up with a transition plan that allows you to utilize the profits from your growing business to make the jump to your next round of growth. If you time it right, you’re new business segment will be accelerating right as your previous one starts to decline. It’s an ongoing process that assures you’re always thinking of the next iteration and being proactive in creating a path to get there.
If not you may find yourself in a reactionary cycle of creating products or providing services in a “me too” fashion just to keep your head above water, which isn’t a winning recipe for anyone.Leave a Comment
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|Dealing With RFQs, Part 2|
By Lee Distad
In the prior installment, I had begun detailing the Request For Quote process, and my observations on them.
And by “observations on them,” what I really mean is my cynical outlook on them.
Don’t get me wrong, jumping through the RFQ hoops set out by organizational procurement managers can be a tedious and unrewarding exercise. But it’s a necessary one, and just because it can be a drag doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to do it successfully.
The very definition of being adult is doing the things you don’t want to do, because you have to do them, and ensuring that you do them well. As previously mentioned, the requirements for how an RFQ is to be responded to can vary widely, depending upon the formats and preferences of the organization that’s floated the RFQ.
Consequently, it’s difficult to craft a one-size-fits-all template “How To Quote On An RFQ.” Granted, if you’re often dealing with the same organization on an ongoing basis, you’ll develop a template particular to them — at least until the procurement mangers leave, and are replaced by others who have completely different ideas on how to do things.
Getting back on track here, like everything else, in your business, there are standards and best practices that you can employ. Everything you do has a process and the RFQ cycle is no different. I’ve got some suggestions on how to simplify the process.
First up is the need to corral the correct people involved in the decision making process to get their input. It may seem painfully obvious that this needs to be done, in theory, but applying it in practice sometimes isn’t that easy.
Especially on large projects, there may be multiple department heads with a stake in the outcome and may have conflicting input. Seldom will the procurement managers have gotten them all into line for you. So, obvious as it sounds, making sure you have all the details on what’s really required is crucial.
Once needs have been correctly assessed, then they have to be prioritized.
Sadly, unless the budget is unlimited (spoiler alert: that never happens), not everyone is going to get what they want. Depending on what their priorities are, different stakeholders at the client organization will have different desiderata for what they want from you.
It’s impossible to please everyone. Hence the need, once input on requirements, whether non-negotiable or mere wish-lists have been collected, they’ve got to be ranked, from the highest priority to the lowest. Here’s where being a diplomat is just as important as being a salesperson.
Where those requirements fall on that list of priorities will shape the quote you deliver.
Just like the project itself, producing a large quote in response to the RFQ requires creating a timeline, assigning responsibilities for sections of it (where applicable), and coordination among your team members to have it completed in time for submission.
Time is always something in short supply, and inevitably the prospective client organization will want it “not now, but RIGHT NOW” as the expression goes. Being well organized and following a process will go a long way towards producing winning quotes.Leave a Comment
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|CEDIA Expands Availability of Certification GloballyCEDIA has announced that CEDIA Certification exams will now be available through Kryterion Global Testing Solutions, which has more than 1,000 testing centers worldwide.
“It has been a long-standing goal of CEDIA to make our certification exams more accessible to our members around the world,” said David Whitney, CEDIA certification manager. “Members who previously could only take certification exams at the CEDIA show or at another CEDIA training event now have the flexibility to take the exam close to home.”
Wendy Griffiths, CEDIA VP of global development adds, “As we look to expand CEDIA’s footprint, it is very exciting to offer our certification exams on a truly global scale. In the UK, for example, we previously had only one testing location and now there are 27 available locations for individuals to take a CEDIA Certification exam.”
In addition to the numerous testing locations, Kryterion also provides extensive exam development resources that will help CEDIA make more frequent and efficient exam updates while continuing to follow testing best practices.
The certification tests include ESC (both in English and Spanish), ESC-T, ESC-D and ESC-N. Individuals looking to sign up for a certification exam will purchase a voucher to take the exam through the CEDIA website. After purchase, a link will be provided to a Kryterion login, allowing individuals to select an exam time and location. A map of all the testing locations can be found on the Kryterion website.
Additional information about CEDIA certification can be found here.Leave a Comment
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|DISH Adds 4K Netflix to Service|
DISH is now the first major U.S. pay-TV provider to offer a whole-home 4K Netflix experience. After offering Netflix Ultra HD titles on its Hopper 3 DVR since April 2016, the company added the app to its 4K Joey client. Now DISH customers have the ability to stream the robust catalog of Ultra HD TV shows and movies on Netflix in multiple rooms throughout the home.
When connected to a Hopper 3, DISH’s 4K Joey provides similar TV functionality to other rooms in the home. Hopper 3 supports up to six 4K Joeys simultaneously, powering a total of seven 4K TVs at one time.
To access Netflix’s 4K programming, DISH customers should select the “Home” or “App” button on the remote control, then select the Netflix icon. The app can also be accessed on channel 370 in the DISH programming guide. Once in the Netflix app, Ultra HD titles are identifiable by searching the terms “4K” or “UHD.” With Netflix integrated into DISH’s universal search results, its 4K titles will also be populated in episode lists using the DISH remote’s traditional search functionality.
DISH customers must subscribe to Netflix’s $11.99 per month subscription plan and have a 4K-compatible television to access this Ultra HD content on Hopper 3 and 4K Joey. Netflix recommends an Internet connection speed of at least 25 megabits per second to stream Ultra HD titles.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Smart Home Market Worth $6B by End of 2017 and Rising Fast|
Smart home devices are shaking off their novelty image and moving mainstream to become one of the fastest growing consumer electronics categories of 2017. That’s according to a new smart home report from Futuresource Consulting, which reveals that the devices will achieve a retail value of $6bn worldwide this year, with revenues expected to triple by 2021.
Alexa and the Google Assistant, embedded in a range of devices, are making inroads into smart home control, with Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana currently lagging behind in the smart home. However, the success of smart speakers and the intuitive nature of voice is not toppling the ever-present nature of smartphones, which are still the go-to interface for controlling smart home devices.
Watch this space for combined voice and sensor control embedded into your smart refrigerator, wall art, mirrors, set-top boxes and TVs, any of which could become the means by which users give commands to their smart home.
There are currently four main smart home categories, namely hubs and control devices, security and monitoring, climate control and lighting systems.
An increasing consumer appetite for all things smart home is giving rise to a range of other smart home devices beyond the four main categories. This includes an assortment of devices from smart mirrors to smart fragrance diffusers, but also basic smart home items such as connected sockets.
At present, North America represents over 60 percent of global smart home shipments and will continue to take the lion’s share out to 2021 and beyond. In Europe, the UK is playing a starring role in the smart home revolution. With a smaller population than both Germany and France, the UK outstrips them as the biggest market for smart home products in Western Europe. Looking to the Asia Pacific region, South Korea is leading the way and growing fast, due to a combination of home grown CE brands and an early adopter mindset.
The Middle East and Africa are behind the smart home curve, although the region is experiencing pockets of innovation and a number of market opportunities, which are covered in more detail in the Futuresource report.
In channel terms, retailers and service providers are the main contributors to the smart home device market. Custom installers currently account for less than 20 percent of installations and most of the growth is coming from easy-to-install DIY devices.
To order the report, go here.Leave a Comment
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|AVAD Introduces Android and Apple Mobile App Enhancements |
AVAD LLC announces enhancements to the AVAD Mobile App, available for download in the Android Google Play and the Apple App Store.
These new enhancements allow AVAD Mobile App users to quickly access their account details and order history from anywhere, whether they’re at a job-site or at their office, to provide them with added convenience and efficiency. AVAD Mobile still features the ability to purchase and search products on the go, as well as now offering the ability to locate an AVAD branch nearby or chat live with an AVAD associate. The app features the latest products and promotions from AVAD, which is continuously updated, as well as a full listing of events and trainings nearby.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|2017 CEDIA Global Award Winners Announced
On September 29, the industry gathered together to recognize excellence and professionalism at the 2017 CEDIA EMEA Awards At the event, the CEDIA Global Award winners – chosen from the winners in all regions in the Best Home Cinema, Best Media Room, and Best Integrated Home categories – were also announced.
Hosted at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, 430 industry professionals were part of the magic, enjoying an evening of networking, fine dining, and toasting the award winners.
The three Global Award winners featured integrators from America and Pakistan taking the coveted accolades.
GLOBAL AWARD WINNERS
Best Home Cinema
Winner: DC Home Systems (Portsmouth, NH, USA) – Playhouse Theater on the Lake
Best Media Room
Winner: Synergy Technologies (Pakistan) – IA Media Room
Best Integrated Home
Winner: Land & Sea Entertainment (San Diego, CA, USA) – Surf’s Up
“We were incredibly impressed with the standard of entries this year and thank all of those who took part in the 2017 CEDIA Awards,” said Matt Nimmons, Managing Director of CEDIA EMEA. “On behalf of CEDIA, I’d like to congratulate our winners on the excellence, talent, and creativity shown in every category. The awards evening was not one to forget this year, and we hope that our guests enjoyed celebrating the best of our industry with us.”
A full list of winners from each region can be found on the CEDIA Awards site here.Leave a Comment
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|IPRO Membership to Be Integrated Into CEDIA IPRO Affinity Group|
CEDIA and IPro (Independent Professional Representatives Organization) have today announced an agreement for the IPRO membership to be integrated into the CEDIA membership under a new CEDIA IPro affinity group.
As part of this new structure, Ray Wright, IPRO executive director will lead operations for the CEDIA IPRO affinity group, and an advisory council will be appointed to coordinate the activities of the group and support the mission. Additionally, the CEDIA IPro affinity group will continue to have an annual conference in conjunction with a CEDIA hosted event. The CEDIA and IPro leadership are currently determining the best option for the 2018 event.
There is significant overlap in the current membership: Those members of both organizations will be transitioned into the CEDIA IPro affinity group at no charge, and those IPro members who are not CEDIA members will be encouraged to join. Other manufacturer rep companies that are CEDIA members may also choose to join the CEDIA IPro affinity group. Beyond the normal CEDIA membership fee, there is no additional charge for manufacturer representative firms to join the CEDIA IPro affinity group.
One key initiative that CEDIA and IPRO have been working on is a regionalized education schedule to provide local reps and dealers with CEDIA education at rep training facilities.
Initial training dates are as follows:
October 17th and 18th
Tandem Marketing – Chicago, IL
Basic Network Training
October 24th and 25th
C&E Marketing – Sunrise, FL
Basic Network Training
November 15th and 16th
Atlantic Integrated – Rockleigh, NJ
Advanced Network Training
December 5th and 6th
ByDesign Vision & Sound Marketing – Los Angeles, CA
Basic Network Training
CEDIA and IPro are working on the transition of members into the CEDIA IPRO affinity group. IPRO Members can expect communication on next steps in the coming weeks. IPRO is here.Leave a Comment
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|BenQ Intros Budget-Friendly HT1070A Home Theater Projector With 96 Percent Rec. 709 CoverageBenQ America today announced the availability of its new budget-friendly HT1070A home theater projector. Calibrated by BenQ’s dedicated engineering team to achieve the Rec. 709 standard, the HT1070A’s 1080p full HD resolution beams brilliant color for home entertainment applications.
BenQ says that the BenQ HT1070A was uniquely engineered to bust inferior image quality hurdles. It features the latest DLP technology and a unique take on the RGBRGB color wheel design to deliver brilliant color performance (>96% Rec. 709) at native full HD resolution. It includes dual HDMI connectivity for a variety of sources, delivering high-contrast content without downscaling or compression.
In order to simplify setup, the BenQ HT1070A eliminates installation frustrations in any environment. It features a setup wizard along with vertical keystone adjustment, a 1.2x optical zoom lens and adjustable feet that all work together for effortless setup and installation.
The BenQ HT1070A is available now for $649 MSRP. More information is available here.Leave a Comment
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|RTI’s T3x White Remote Control Ships|
RTI today announced the availability of its special edition T3x handheld system controller. The flagship remote control features a white finish. RTI’s T3x was shown in different finishes for the first time at ISE 2017. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the company let its dealers vote on their favorite finish color, which would be featured in the special edition of the controller. When the votes were tallied, the white finish won by a landslide.
The T3x system controller comes with a 3.5-inch flush-mount high-resolution touchscreen and fully programmable soft-touch buttons for comfortable, ergonomic control. Building on the technological advancements of its predecessors, the T3x redefines the expectations of what is possible with a handheld controller. The T3x features grip sensors, an accelerometer, two-way control, Wi-Fi, dual RF and more. The touchscreen gives the user haptic feedback in the form of a subtle vibration as confirmation of a button press. Other advanced capabilities include direct video intercom support from the T3x’s built-in camera and microphone, allowing users to incorporate the controller as part of their whole-house control and monitoring system.
Here are all the details.Leave a Comment
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|AudioControl Ships New Maestro M5 Theater ProcessorThe Maestro M5, one of AudioControl’s next generation preamp processors (along with the Maestro M9), supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio surround formats plus Dirac Live room correction along with dual balanced XLR inputs and balanced XLR outputs for all channels, including height.
Behind the Espresso Black brushed aluminum front panel, the Maestro M5 houses the latest in audio and video processing technology, including HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2 and HDR playback. There are inputs for seven HDMI sources plus dual HDMI outputs (ARC compatible) as well as an ultra HD 4K video pass-through and upscaling capability that includes support for High Dynamic Range (HDR).
Other features include:
- 7.1.4 Home Theater 4K Ultra HD supporting HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2
- Supports transmission of High Dynamic Range (HDR) formats, with BT.2020 support
- Supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:XTM
- Dirac Live Room Correction
- Seven HDMI, four COAX SPDIF, two Toslink, six RCA Phono inputs
- Dual HDMI outputs (ARC supported)
- 12 balanced XLR outputs
- USB Input for connection to iPad, iPhone, iPod and other portable music players and mass storage devices
- Supports MP3, WMA (Windows Media Audio), WAV, FLAC (Free Lossless Audio CODEC) and MPEG-4 AAC (i-Tunes) playback
- HD Surround modes include Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS:X, DTS-HD Master Audio
- Also supports Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo Downmix, Dolby Digital 5.1 + Dolby Surround, DTS 5.1, DTS 5.1 Stereo Downmix, DTS-ES 6.1 Matrix, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS96/24
- IP, RS232, 12 volt trigger and IR control options
For more information on AudioControl’s Maestro M5 is here.Leave a Comment
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|Covid Adds HDBaseT Certified Cables|
Covid has announced the addition of HDBaseT certified bulk cables to their line of category cable products. These new cables ship in lengths of 1000 feet and are housed in convenient Reelex boxes that offer easy pulling. Both plenum and non-plenum versions are available with plenum cable choices in black or blue jacket colors.
As you likely know, HDBaseT allows for the transmission of HDMI signals, long distance over just one Cat5e or Cat6 cable. Covid’s new HDBaseT cables offer the reassurance that they are certified and rated specific for HDBaseT use. As an additional feature, these HDBase-T certified cables come pre-packaged in Reelex boxes. This makes cable pulling easy and free from messy tangles.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Covid Adds Two New HDMI 2.0 Cables|
Covid has announced the addition of two new HDMI 2.0 cables. Both support HDMI High Dynamic Range (HDR) up to 18Gbps and 4K@60Hz resolution and color.
The P-HDFH-DC2 Active Optical cable is a plenum-rated, flexible cable offering a 5-millimeter bend radius. Because this cable is constructed using fiber optics, it can be offered in much longer lengths than standard copper HDMI cables. This cable also has detachable connectors — the HDMI connector heads can be quickly removed, making this cable easy to pull in tight spaces or through conduit. Connectors snap back into place once the cable is installed. These cables are available in lengths up to 328 feet.
The HDPR is Covid’s Premium Certified HDMI 2.0 cable. In addition, these cables carry the HDMI Premium Certified Anti-Counterfeit Labels and ship complete with Covid T-Grip connectors for a more secure connection. They are available in several lengths.
Here are all the tech specs on both cables.Leave a Comment
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For all you REGULAR readers of rAVe HomeAV Edition out there, hopefully you enjoyed another opinion-packed issue!
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read how we are — we are 100% opinionated. We not only report the news and new product stories of the high-end HomeAV industry, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories — that’s why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write anything good (or bad).
Don’t like us, then go away — unsubscribe! Just use the link below.
To send me feedback, don’t reply to this newsletter – instead, write directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or for editorial ideas: Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at email@example.com
A little about me: I graduated from Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I am adjunct faculty). I’ve been in the AV-industry since 1987 where I started with Extron and eventually moved to AMX. So, I guess I am an industry veteran (although I don’t think I am that old). I have been an opinionated columnist for a number of industry publications and in the late 1990s I started the widely read KNews eNewsletter (the first in the AV market) and also created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which is now known as InfoComm IQ. rAVe Publications has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter, rAVe ProAV Edition.
rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA, launched in February, 2004.
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rAVe HomeAV Edition contains the opinions of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other persons or companies or its sponsors.