InfoComm: A Show… And A Whole Lot More

George Petersen • Editor's NoteJune 2019 • June 18, 2019

Ah, it’s June! With summer just a few weeks away, the industry’s thoughts turn to… InfoComm 2019, which rolls into Orlando this month. The conference is June 8 to 14; the exhibits run from June 12 to 14, when some 44,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors representing every facet of audiovisual technology jam into the Orange County Convention Center for some AV excitement. It’s quite an all-encompassing event. Produced by AVIXA (the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association), this largest pro-AV show in North America packs a week’s worth of educational and training sessions, new gear debuts, audio demo rooms and more under a single roof with more than 500,000 square feet of space.

There’s no doubt 44,000 attendees is an lofty number, but a sizeable percent of that figure are focused on digital signage, lighting, video, etc. — and have little interest in audio. But given that, it’s also important to acknowledge that, according to an AVIXA survey concerning showgoers’ areas of interest, 15,996 were interested in loudspeakers, 14,486 in microphones and an almost equal number (14,367) in audio mixers and amplifiers.

‡‡         The Launch Process

As an attendee, it’s easy to go though the exhibits and never consider the months of preparation and coordinated efforts that go into having even a fairly simple booth. First of all, companies need to hold strategy meetings to determine exactly which products will be shown and also importantly, what items on the “drawing board” should be unveiled.

The timing on the latter can be critical, as a new launch can render a company’s existing stock obsolete. True, technology marches onward, but prematurely announcing a product that’s not ready for market — i.e., “vaporware” — can be a disaster.

That situation is also unlikely to win manufacturers any friends with customers who just invested in the previous rev; and the same applies to dealers who may have stocked up on yesterday’s version. When it happens with hardware, such as speaker systems, things can become rather dicey. Fortunately, it’s far less of an issue with software-based gear, where the next app or firmware update may be right around the corner. Certainly, products that have incorporated FPGA technology — such as DiGiCo’s SD series or Allen & Heath’s dLive — have achieved an enviable level of future-proofing, to the point where updates to existing mixers not only add new features but can increase the number of available mix buses or input count — on products even several years old.

Besides deciding what to launch, manufacturers may also have to design a floor exhibit and/or demo rooms, with appropriate signage (there’s that word again), along with assembling demo materials, creating collateral material — advance advertisements, brochures, cutsheets, press materials, “swag,” etc. — as well as train the staff on presenting the new gear. There are other “minor” items, such as construction, freight, shipping, drayage, space reservations — and we haven’t even touched on booking hotels, airfares and budgeting for all of this. And here, logistics is all-important — the greatest exhibit in the world is useless if it shows up at the expo hall a week late.

‡‡         Stay on Target

Perhaps one of the best parts about looming future show dates is that it gives companies a framework to work with. Knowing that an item is slated to be unveiled at a certain show establishes a hard deadline that needs to be met. While a new product can realistically be launched anytime, there is a certain joie de vivre (and obvious advantage) to making the birth of a company’s next “big thing” be part of an industry event that attracts not only thousands of potential customers, but also the attention of the press, dealers, reps and other involved parties. As in all things, timing is everything.

Speaking of that, we’re been burning the midnight oil to bring this special issue of FRONT of HOUSE to InfoComm. And when we say “special,” we mean it. From our cover story on the massive 450-speaker audio makeover at London’s Royal Albert Hall and an expanded section of new product debuts at InfoComm, to in-depth features on mixing the Muse tour, the NFL Draft production for 600,000 in downtown Nashville and a focus on cardioid subwoofer array technology, there’s a lot here. Also on the install side, we have late-breaking news about a new system at the iconic Whisky A Go Go and a look the 1,800-capacity Penn’s Peak venue in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains. Check it out.

We’re off to InfoComm now, and if you’re at the show, stop by Timeless Communications/FRONT of HOUSE (booth #4493) and say hello. Until then, travel well, stay safe and see you at the show!

For George Petersen’s video introduction to the June 2019 issue of FRONT of HOUSE magazine, CLICK HERE.

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