Widgets Magazine

Review/Preview 2013

Ah, what a year 2013 has been. CES gave us another “kiss and a promise” about OLED. ISE continues to develop into the world’s biggest AV trade show. AVB and HDBaseT continue to stretch the world of HD video and audio signals. The head of Nest made a serious play into the world of residential AV and keynotes the CEDIA show. Plus, the economy shows more recovery signs as InfoComm 2013 is the biggest InfoComm ever.
So, what made this year special, and what will the new year bring? This blog is dedicated to my thoughts on this.
2013 will be remembered as another swing and miss for OLED. Another promise during CES 2013 and another underwhelming offering come Christmastime. That is not to say there are not any products out there for OLED. The ones that are have been priced to the point where only those who are early adopters can, or would, pay that amount of money. OLED will probably follow the same product development cycle as plasma displays. There are a few early concept displays that are in excess of $20,000. These will be purchased by those who “have” to have the latest and greatest technology. As the next few years go along, the prices will come down as manufacturing ramps up. Now, there is one small monkey wrench that can be thrown into all this; manufacturing. There have been rumors for a few months of some issues getting some of the OLEDs produced at an efficient enough rate to make it profitable for larger displays. If this proves true, we may all be waiting a long time for the sub-$1,000 OLED.
As much as I make light of Americans’ ego-centric nature, we are a bunch of ego-centrists. America has a bit over 300 million people. Compare that to both India and China’s population in excess of one billion. Both of these countries will experience incredible growth and development in all economic areas in the years to come, including AV consumption. This is why ISE as well as the India and China shows InfoComm has done this year have been such big successes. They will continue to grow and I wouldn’t be surprised if the India or China show eclipses ISE in the next few years.
This was the year of AVB discovery for me, and for a number of people. My friend Craig MacCormack wrote a great piece about the non-fight between AVB and HDBaseT during InfoComm 2013. Up until this year it felt as if the two technologies were competing. However, it is apparent they are two sides of different coins. AVB uses switches and HDBaseT is a more direct, point-to-point system. AVB has also developed their testing facility at the University of New Hampshire. This allows for AVB certified products. A number of manufacturers who are involved with the AVnu Alliance (the AVB industry group) have begun to offer more products. All this adds up to a great year for AVB.
Those are my big things for 2013. Now, what will 2014 be known for? Two things; networked AV and Cisco.
First, to continue off the AVB vein. 2014 will be the year AVB breaks into the mainstream. It will happen for two primary reasons. The first is that a number of manufacturers are in the final development stages of some revolutionary products that feature AVB as their backbone. Think HD video companies and DSP peeps. These will be simple one or two-RU products that are simple to implement and will help take AVB to the mainstream of AV. But what will take AVB to the masses? Cisco.
Cisco is a founding member of the AVnu Alliance. Up till this point, though, they have not produced an AVB switch. In 2014 that will change, and with that change will come the ushering in of AVB. Cisco is the backbone for most of the world’s networks. Once IT managers begin to switch out old products for new ones, AVB will be their; either in the background or foreground. There are already Cisco switches on the market that can be “AVB enabled” with a firmware hack. Now that the AVnu Alliance has the U of NH testing facility in place, it will give Cisco the stability and “warm fuzzies” to put their name behind AVB.
2014 will be the year of Cisco for another reason. They will acquire an automation company. It is the next logical step for a company that has already dove into the world of AV by purchasing Tandberg a number of years ago. With Control4 going public this year, they are the most likely target. Cisco can either make an appeal to the stockholders, silently purchase stock, or do a charge of the battlefield and do a hostile takeover. No matter how it happens, 2014 will be the year Cisco becomes an even bigger player in the world of AV.
That’s all I have for this year. Some of my predictions may be right, most will probably be something to look back on and laugh. We’ll see. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each of you who continue to read the weekly thoughts from this AV professional. It has made the first year of continuous blogging worth it. The feedback, both good and bad, have been instructional and worth it. So, thank you for reading, Tweeting, and forwarding these blogs. Have a great week, and a great 2014.

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