Since the acquisition of AMX by HARMAN, many of us in the HomeAV and ProAV markets have been wondering what happened to AMX. And, it’s not just that they’ve shrunk their once giant booths to tent-sized displays housed inside the larger HARMAN family. In fact, during that same period of time, Extron stopped exhibiting at InfoComm and ISE shows and Crestron stopped being at CEDIA — yet, both Extron and Crestron come top-of-mind with nearly any AV-integration or design firm. So, yes, the AMX presence has been minimized, but it appears to be a bigger issue than that.
However, talk to anyone at AMX on-the-record, you get the “everything is great and we are growing and investing big-time” statement. Off-the-record, the story is different. For example, I’ve personally been contacted by more current AMX’ers than any other company in AV right now (an inordinate number of people for a supposedly-thriving company) seeking other employment opportunities. Granted, it could be related to the fact that I worked there for a while, but I think it’s a bigger issue than that.
And then, there’s the SVSi factor. Back in summer of 2015, HARMAN bought SVSi and put them under the AMX umbrella and they’ve all but disappeared from the mainstream AV over IP discussion. Sure, there are installs — in fact, an entire university campus in Australia was celebrating their successful integration of SVSi campus-wide last week at the Sydney, Australia-based Integrate 2016 show — but, when I talked to reps from four of the top five dealers in North America this week, they told me that AMX had slipped from their number two control system company to number three.
And now, as I put the finishing touches on this blog, I receive, in my inbox, AMX’s most recent announcement — the 20 percent price reduction of “several Enova DGX Boards and the Enova DXLink Transmitters and Receivers.” It seemed to strengthen my perception as well as that of the AVI-SPL employee that sent it to me today. Why? Well, the Enova DGX is their flagship digital media product and digital media is the fastest growing segment of the ProAV switching and routing market right now — who isn’t converting from analog to digital?
I reached out to AMX’s communications and marketing teams to help understand what is going on — and, in fact, even sent them a draft of this blog — to give them a chance to respond BUT there was no response.
I am dumbfounded.
AMX was once the top control system company in the world. They acquired York Controls — then, the #2 control system company — and were on top. Then, in 2005, still the #2 control system company in the market, they were acquired by Duchossois Industries for $315 Million. While part of Duchossois (who, at the time, also owned Chief Manufacturing and Sanus), AMX acquired Endeleo, AutoPatch (remember them??) and then Matrix Audio Designs — all three were AV switching and routing companies. It was clear by the end of 2006 that AMX saw AV switching as their next growth market. And, they did have a great launch into the market with the original Enova digital media matrix back in early 2012.
So, what happened since then?
When HARMAN bought them in 2014, I thought that was a nearly-perfect merger. Why? HARMAN was all audio. AMX was all video. And, AMX had a nearly $2 Billion installed base of control system users while HARMAN was trying to figure out what to do with HiQnet at the time. So, it was logical that HARMAN would leverage AMX’s control protocol and add it to HiQnet and have universal control and ID across all product lines including big brands like JBL, Crown, dvx, Lexicon, AKG, Soundcraft and others.
But, so far, that hasn’t come to fruition. And, if anything, AMX is nearly everyone’s third-choice control company behind Crestron and Extron in the commercial AV world.
HARMAN is a giant and could have something up their sleeve with AMX. But, if they do, they should let us know or, at the very least, certainly let the people at AMX know. They have a talented pool of commercial AV experts that they shouldn’t want to lose. Some are so well known that, if they left and went to a competitor, for example, they’d likely take millions of dollars of business with them because in the control systems world, business is done primary via relationships. Sure, products matter, but the relationships these account managers and consultant/experts have carry millions of dollars worth of loyalty in each region.
HARMAN, founded in only 1980, is already a $7 Billion company whose net income in 2015 was over $700 Million. They have money. But, truth is, only 1/7th of that is commercial AV — nearly $6 Billion of it was from connected cars ($3.1 Billion), consumer lifestyle audio ($2.1 Billion) and “services” (about $700 million). So, maybe AMX is lost in the mix of the other ProAV business competing with the likes of better-known brands like Crown Audio and JBL Professional.
Time will tell. Will AMX drop below Savant — who’s clearly aiming for the ProAV market — and other HomeAV to ProAV crossovers like URC (Universal Remote Control) and RTI (who’s launching a commercial AV control system line later this month)? And then of course you have Crestron and Extron, who just keep getting bigger and bigger.
Will AMX be in the mix?
Author’s Note: Over the past week, I have reached out to AMX and HARMAN for comment and offered them a chance to rebut this blog. I even sent them the blog BEFORE publishing so they could give proper comment, but I never received a response.