InfoComm's reputation as an event that serves the global AV industry has been further enhanced this year. This is due partly to internal initiatives, and partly to our good and trusted friend, globalization.
As an 'international' visitor to InfoComm, I'm consistently impressed with the way the show continues to attract visitors from all over the globe -- despite increasing pressures on our time, the growth of regional events in other parts of the world, and the inevitable hassle of dealing with security measures at today's airports.
Overseas manufacturers have always been a key part of the show's exhibitor base. The U.S. market's undeniable leadership in so many aspects of the AV industry acts as a magnet to companies large and small. Increasingly, though, it's becoming hard to define which exhibitors are genuinely 'foreign'.
At every InfoComm I've ever been to, DNP has been among the more stylish of exhibitors. The Danish-based projection screen manufacturer has pioneered the idea of showcasing its products in simulated application settings, rather than merely mounting them on carpet-wrapped podiums and posting a spec sheet in front of them.
But DNP's parent company is actually Japanese. And while most of its product line -- including the very impressive new Supernova Infinity, being demonstrated at InfoComm with a 204-inch diagonal in 16:9 aspect ratio, in conjunction with a Barco FML HD18 projector -- continues to be made in Denmark, others are now being produced in the U.S.
Product Manager Johnny Jensen explains: "Products like the Supernova Infinity are effectively custom items which we will continue to make in Denmark. But for more regular items such as the Supernova Flex, it makes sense for us to build them in the States. This is our biggest market, we can save on shipping costs, and we can reduce the time it takes to get product to our dealers, which can be critical in so many installation projects."
You'd be hard-pressed to find a clearer example of how globalization is changing the way the AV industry works -- though there are undoubtedly many others out on the show floor. And the trend toward a truly global market for integration is also manifesting itself in the show's visitor profile, as Terry Friesenborg, Senior V.P. of International Development at InfoComm emphasizes.
"We always do well with visitor numbers from the Far East when the show is on the West Coast, and we're very pleased with the attendance from Europe this year, despite the consistent growth of the Integrated Systems Europe event," says Friesenborg.
"But probably the most pleasing thing this year is the growth in visitor numbers from Latin America. There are 100 members in one Brazilian delegation alone, and Mexico is also sending more and more attendees to the show."
Maximizing the potential of emerging markets such as Latin America isn't just a question of putting up a website and sending out a few e-mails to AV dealers. InfoComm works closely with the International Buyer Program, which is run by the U.S. Department Of Commerce and helps extend InfoComm's global reach by exploiting the resources of local consular representation. In return, InfoComm itself incentivizes overseas visitors by offering them benefits such as selected seminars at no charge.
So, while regional events seem certain to continue on their own (in some cases spectacular) growth curve, InfoComm remains unique as the place where the world comes to do its AV shopping, networking, negotiating, and training.
Long may it stay that way.