In technology, we always keep hearing about the first mover advantage. Any new technology or app needs to make a land grab to gain critical mass. But sometimes it’s not all about being first, but is about being best. Take the Apple Watch—everyone has announced an app for its control system, TV, audio system, or activity monitor. But do they all work flawlessly? I’d rather my clients wait until the winners shake out, instead of having a poor experience (me on the other hand? I’ll have every gadget from day one and practically be a beta tester!)
Translate this to our business. We need products that just work. In fact, I often prefer to work with a product that came out a little bit later instead of the first-to-market solution, because there are always bugs to be worked out. Take HDMI switches and extenders. Early version of these products were full of difficulties, from long switching delays to dropped signals to bad EDID. Those who installed the early HDMI matrix switchers are probably still troubleshooting them! Luckily we waited until we were comfortable that the technology had advanced to a point where we could rely on it without question.
IP control is great when it works, because there are fewer wires to deal with. But it still can have its hiccups. My AV receiver recently locked up on a volume ramp up using IP control; luckily I was quick to hit the system off button, and it powered everything down so there was no input into the AVR to blow my speakers. I had to then use my remote power management system to reboot the AVR—I really didn’t want to trudge downstairs and pull out the rack to power cycle (I do love IP power.) My DVR will sometimes get stuck fast forwarding with IP control. I use IP at home exactly for these reasons, so I know what can go wrong. Even with a robust network, managed switches, enterprise-grade router and WAPs, issues arise and there are IP hiccups. My priority is to use RS232, then IR, then IP for control, although IP does more to #2 on the list if I need two-way feedback.
I am just starting to sell 4K TVs. For more than a year all I heard were horror stories about video and audio drop outs using HDBaseT extenders and incompatibility with various AVRs and other components. As I’ve said many times, I won’t install something in a client’s home that I haven’t lived with for at least three months in my home. This helps me avoid major disappointments with clients and poor customer experiences.
We all want the best for our clients, because it is ultimately the best for them, us, our employees, and our bottom lines. When we install products and systems that “just work,” it’s beneficial for everyone involved. Clients are happier and that trickles down to everyone involved from our employees to our manufacturing partners to our spouses. I wish Apple would go back to making products and services that “just work.” I hope the Apple Watch is a step in that direction, but I wouldn’t know yet. I ordered mine in the first 10 minutes after pre-orders opened and am still waiting for it to ship.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation, in New York City.