Monday, June 27, 2005

What it would take to get the SI industry to adopt Media Servers

The deeper I get into this topic the more I realize that there is a lot of FUD surrounding Media Servers in the SI industry. Audio servers like Audio Request and Escient have been well accepted for years and video servers like the Kaleidescape are becoming more mainstream. What is it about combining audio and video into a single box that has everyone so concerned?

I guess one answer is that Media Servers upset the status quo. A well implemented audio and video server product in a single box can be a greatly disruptive technology. Most audio and video servers with the possible exception of Meda Bravos are really just parts of a complete system. They really depend on switchers, control systems and custom software to work at an acceptable level. A well implemented Media Server can very eloquently function as a stand alone product. There is a lot of money at stake propping up these complicated, stand alone technologies from both a manufacturer and installer point of view. Complicated is expensive and CEDIA has made great strides training people how to install these types of systems.

I guess people are worried because what once sold for $25,000 will now sell for $2,500.00. I would be concerned if I was going to lose a zero as well. However technology marches on, there is no stopping it. Ignoring technology will not make it go away. The IT industry has evolved and flourished around major technology changes every 18 to 24 months. Even in our own industry we have seen video display devices plummet in price, size and complexity yet skyrocket in picture quality over the past couple of years. So what happened? Did we sell less? Did project budgets drop? No, the market expanded exponentially and the people who were going to spend $100K on a theater could now get more than a 9” CRT and a video processor.

The same thing is going to happen with Media Servers. You will not need to spend all that time and money configuring stand alone components for the majority of your clients media needs. That does not mean that they will not need touch screen systems to extend to the rest of the home system, high quality power amps, speakers, display devices, furniture and lighting systems. It just means that now your clients will have more money for these systems and there will be more clients.

I already have gotten a certain amount of shit for these views but hey, don’t shoot the messenger. According to the CE Pro Top 100 Media Servers are where they expect to see the most growth. The sooner the SI industry adopts the Media Server the sooner the industry can get to the next level of growth. Media Servers are the future of the SI industry, embrace the future.


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