Why We Picked Extron’s TouchLink for Best of InfoComm

Some 15-years ago, the first touch-panels debuted for the meeting room market – and the control system market has never been the same since.  Touch panels are slick, cool and have the capability to give you complete control of every function you can possibly imagine you’ll ever need in a room.

Yesterday, we released our Best of InfoComm Awards for 2009 and handed a newcomer to the touch panel market our most coveted award, Best New Product, for Extron’s TouchLink touch panels.  But, we did NOT give Extron the award for coming out with the new touch-panels – if you thought that, you missed the point.  These touch panels are VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY different than ANY that have come before in the ProAV market.  You will see this yourself as they, no doubt, gain market penetration quickly – and I mean quickly – assuming Crestron and AMX don’t emulate the concept.

Why?  Because (and this was the point of the award) they are CONFIGURABLE – no programming required.  That is a HUGE, HUGE deal.  Trust me on that point.  I’ve been in this market over 22-years and have literally visited thousands (yes thousands) of dealers over just the past decade and one of THE TOP COMPLAINTS from dealers and end-users alike is how frustrating the custom programming of touch-panels are.  Sure, you charge for it, but it’s never done.  There’s always something else to do, to tweak, to modify or to finish.

Let me give you an example of how big of an impact this will be in ProAV.  Two years ago, there was a company called Logitech that entered the HomeAV market with the first CONFIGURABLE (not programmable) touch panels for the home.  It was called Harmony 1000.  In less than 16-months, they LITERALLY went from a ZERO (0) percent market share to somewhere around 40% of the touch panel market.  That’s a HUGE gain in a small amount of time.  Then, RTI introduced the T4 (another configurable – not programmable –  touch panel).  Now, the two together are estimated to have almost a 60% market share (this is two years later, by the way).  Dealers FLOCKED to both of them.  Why?  Why would they give up the “programming” fees?  There were two factors then (and now) that drive that:

1.  There was a big movement towards simplification of systems in the HomeAV market.  Sound familiar?
2.  There was a push for less expensive systems.  Sound familiar?

I’d be careful brushing off the importance and IMPACT of CONFIGURABLE touch panels.  I suspect that both Crestron AND AMX are going to RUSH configurable products to the market.  Remember I said that and remember I am the one I told you about that impact.  It WILL happen.

Gary Kayye