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Fields are Green

I spent the first eight years of my life on a small, lush island. One of my fondest memories of that time in Barbados is watching my parents, especially my father, gently wiping the dust from his Bob Marley or Charlie Pride records, and with even greater care,

placing the selected disc of vinyl on the record player and slowly lowering the needle. The ensuing static and pop are one of the defining sounds of my childhood.

When we moved to the cold, raucous, concreteladen environs of Brooklyn, New York, one of the first things my parents invested in was a top-notch component stereo—a Technics AV receiver, if memory serves me well—coupled with speakers that were taller than my eight-year-old self. The soothing static and pop was like going home to the warmth and sunshine that we had all left behind.

The importance of music at that time to my family, and consequently, the equipment on which it was played, instilled in me a deep appreciation of not only quality sound, but of the technology that proved to be the gateway to my career as a writer and editor in the consumer electronics field.

My trip from a tiny island nation to a vast, modern country that constantly seems to be making new breakthroughs mirrors not only the trajectory of electronics and the sciences that often move it forward, but our custom integration business as well. Many U.S.-based custom integration and electronics manufacturers admittedly have had 3,000 miles of land and 300 million potential customers to which they could pitch their latest innovations. But like my family, there is a recognition of a much bigger world out there.

Residential Systems International, the brainchild of the editorial team of U.S.-based Residential Systems, is intended to be more than a reflection of that greater potential growth for U.S.-based manufacturers and the custom integrators who utilize their products. Tapping into a larger playing field also gives these pros the opportunity to experience new environments that can lead to a world-changing exchange of ideas and a healthy competitiveness that will serve both our industry and our clients well.

If this all sounds idealistic, set aside that cynicism for a moment. Would Apple, arguably the most talked about company on the face of the Earth in the last year, have thrived if it had kept its Macintosh computers and the beloved iPod confined to U.S. borders? Apple’s global success has forced its competitors to innovate and to give their forward-thinking ideas broader reach. The benefits are clearly not one-sided, no matter what stock market values might indicate.

I contend that this holds true for our industry as well. While many U.S.-based manufacturers have already branched out into the global playground, many others hesitate at the gates. This state of affairs is also a reality for a number of European, Asian, and Latin American channel players. I acknowledge that there are many considerations— geopolitical, economic, and environmental—to be weighed before diving into a bigger pond, but the custom integration business and the products that drive it can stand to benefit from more interplay. The current regional fragmentation that divvies up our business has slowed down the building of unifying standards, which are the cornerstone of an unbreakable niche market.

Residential Systems International, as an industry news outlet and record keeper, has been established to not only chart the trajectory of this particular time in our channel, but to encourage players in our most thriving corners of the world to look outward. Positive things can happen when we move from small places to greater fields.

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