The touchpanel is not in any danger of going away.
Nope, no danger at all.
In fact, touchpanels are going to be used more in commercial electronics integration. Every installation over $2,000 may soon be sporting a shiny, new, large-screen, high-resolution touchpanel.
I am also prepared to declare a winner of the touchpanel debate.
With Crestron, AMX, and Extron appearing to be the market leaders, it isn’t easy to name a winner of the every-room-gets-a-touchpanel sweepstakes, but I award the prize to …
You shouldn’t be. The Apple iPad, already being sparsely used in commercial integration for automation, has three major advantages that will soon make it the most used control interface in the audio visual industry.
Brand Recognition—Customers will not fear but rather embrace the idea of the iPad serving as the control interface.
Reliability—Have you used an iPad? They work. Even the Wi-Fi is more reliable.
Aesthetics—They look fantastic. The graphic interface and touch response of the iPad is second to none.
The iPad is chock full of other great features and diverse usability in the classroom, boardroom, meeting room, or other technology equipped environment.
Meanwhile, at less than a $500 starting price, its affordability allows customers to spend more money on the equipment used to collaborate rather than the equipment used to control the meeting.
Effect On Integrators
The Apple iPad allows integrators to offer clients more for less now that the total cost of the control system is less.
It also takes away volume of profitable hardware sales because, rather than selling high-margin control equipment, those dollars will either be removed from the budget to create savings or replaced with other equipment that likely has lower margin.
Wait—that makes the iPad appear to be a bad thing, right? It depends on how you look at it.
If integrators’ business values are such that they are trying to offer clients the best solution for the money, we have to consider this. We have to augment our profit on equipment with more sales of value-added integration and ongoing support services.
This need has been an ongoing topic of conversation and the iPad, like so many other drivers changing our industry, is just one more reminder.
Having said that, if you deliver great value to your customers and you solve their problems with products they need at prices that make sense, you will cement your relationship with that customer.
That philosophy will lead to more business and higher margins through win/win relationships.
So in the end, the iPad has revolutionized the Internet, the way people consume information, and the way people communicate ... and it is revolutionizing the way we control A/V.
Daniel L. Newman currently serves as CEO of EOS, a new company focused on offering cloud-based management solutions for IT and A/V integrators. He has spent his entire career in various integration industry roles. Most recently, Newman was CEO of United Visual where he led all day to day operations for the 60-plus-year-old integrator.
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