Extracting the digit

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This article appeared in the Issue 188, 23 January 2006 issue of CRN magazine.

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OPINION: The two very separate IT retail and audiovisual (AV) channels are facing a bit of a dilemma. If the digital home is going to become a big earner this year, both channels will have to meet in the middle — somehow.

Our cover yarn this issue gets to the crux of the problem. IT resellers know everything about computers but nothing about consumer electronics and AV guys know everything about home electronics and nothing about IT.

This year I believe, the digital home concept will reach a ‘tipping point’ of acceptance. Consumers are lapping up plasmas, MP3 players, LCD monitors and wireless networks. The products are there — someone just has to take charge and put it all together. But how does the industry do this?

I’ll back quids that if I walk into Harvey Norman over the weekend and ask for someone to come to my place and install a computer, audiovisual and home automation network, sales staff would most likely look at me blankly and ask how many ‘boxes’ I wanted to purchase.

I’m actually being a bit ambitious here given that I live in a two-bedroom flat. Oh well, one can only dream.

Speaking of boxes, one of Sydney’s top AV specialists, Len Wallace, said convergence is too difficult for a lot of resellers and it is much easier for them to ‘get boxes out the door, collect payment and be done with it’.

Unfortunately, he’s very right.

When you have to make your numbers, the easy option is to get the products out the door and not worry about the huge investment required to train staff in all different types of technology.

Think about it. If you’re a SOHO reseller, the time and money it takes to train staff (on top of what the vendors can provide for free) is a huge investment. Wallace told us he spends maybe 20 hours doing concepts and designs with a customer before his technical staff turn the first screw.

He has also invested plenty of money in a mock-up showroom where potential customers can see their digital home dream in action.

Obviously, the majority of IT resellers and even AV stores do not have the resources to do anything of this scale.

Maybe AV and IT resellers need to get together to solve the problem. We might possibly see some mergers in this area in the near future. Who knows?

On another note, we are making some exciting changes to CRN that will be unveiled in our 20 February issue. We’re repositioning this publication to differentiate it even more from its competitors and help you easily find the information that you require every fortnight.

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