I Guess We’re All Free Wednesday Night

Well my Wednesday night InfoComm dance card just opened up, as I’m sure it did for many of you. I was as surprised by Extron’s announcement as anyone, although, after some thought, their exit doesn’t seem that crazy to me.

The Extron booth was a pretty low priority for me at the show. I’m familiar with their product line, plus they send out news and product information constantly – electronically and printed. They also have one of the best web sites in the industry.

It will be one less chance to catch up on their new products, but most of those were often the better part of a year from shipping. Kind of makes them seem a better candidate for “new product” next year, but I’m just a tech guy, what do I know?

My time at the show was better spent with other manufacturers, the smaller AV companies I don’t know quite as well, the folks I won’t see in glossy full-page magazine ads every month. (Not that we don’t appreciate those – helping to keep those magazines in print.) Those smaller companies are usually where I have found the products that have made the biggest changes to the systems we build. The big booths – let me guess: this year is smaller, lighter, brighter, faster, cheaper, or higher resolution. Am I right? And I’m kind of over the 3D and telepresence demos.

Of course the big thing everyone keeps talking about is The Bash. Sure it was fun, but how do you justify a huge party like that business-wise? Besides, wasn’t it just an exercise in “my Wednesday night party is bigger than your Thursday night party”?

I am disappointed that they aren’t going to be doing any classes or training. The Extron classes at InfoComm were consistently exceptional. This is probably the most short-sighted aspect of their exit in my eyes. With their size and eclectic product line they are in a key position to provide valuable industry training. I would have liked to have seen a bit more largess in this area and for training (open to the great unwashed AV masses) to continue at the show, not just for private invitees to the home office.

In retrospect I think they had no place to go. They set a very high bar for themselves – the biggest booth and the biggest party. They would jump the shark every year. That’s a tough act to sustain. What do you do for an encore?

For a long time they were the little guy who had something to prove. Once their size and key role in the industry became second nature to all of us, what was the rational for a huge booth and party? And to back down from either of those – to do anything less than this complete cut-and-run – would have had us all speculating far worse than the “they think they don’t need InfoComm” that most opinion seems to be boiling down to.

That’s my take, what about you folks? What do you think about Extron deciding to no longer participate in the InfoComm show?

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