AMX on CEDIA 2014

nicolaunicolau Junior MemberPosts: 28
Have you seen AMX presence on CEDIA this year?
Only a small table almost hidden, with 3 TPs and a DGX. Not functioning. No new NX master...
What do you think that mean? Also, I was told that on AMX Headquarters, the AMX logo was removed and there is no reference to AMX anymore, only Harman.

Comments

  • John NagyJohn Nagy CineTouch Product Manager Posts: 1,479
    What they told us about the small CEDIA showing was that HARMON thinks of AMX as a commercial product, and CEDIA is a residential show. Internally there is an as-yet unresolved channel argument that AMX needs to be a presence in both... and until that works out, Harmon isn't spending marketing money on AMX in RESI.
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,344
    Sounds like the last nail in the AMX resi coffin. Guess it's time to seriously figure out a replacement product line for future installs.

    If they took the name off of the HQ I wonder if the name will be replaced on products too.
  • John NagyJohn Nagy CineTouch Product Manager Posts: 1,479
    vining wrote: »
    Sounds like the last nail in the AMX resi coffin. Guess it's time to seriously figure out a replacement product line for future installs.

    But let's not leap to imagine that a commercial-focused Harmonized AMX product line will cease to operate when brought into homes... any more than they have for years now.
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,344
    John Nagy wrote: »
    But let's not leap to imagine that a commercial-focused Harmonized AMX product line will cease to operate when brought into homes... any more than they have for years now.
    True but why waste time on a company's product line if they have no desire to cater or support my neads or the needs of my market? Especially if I have to pay a premium for products that are often less capable or reliable.

    Of course with their new distribution amps there's now something else sellable in the resi market to help get sales numbers up but I think for allot of resi dealers the bridge has already been burnt and there's allot of lingering resentment towards AMX. I know I love using their products despite allot of the problems but I have no love left for AMX the company.
  • jandrulisjandrulis Vice President, AMX Global Marketing Posts: 1
    Vice President, AMX Global Marketing

    Rest assured that AMX is alive and well as part of Harman.

    Without a doubt, we are now a proud brand within the Harman family, but will remain a prominent and visible brand that extends Harman's reach in the control and video parts of the AV market. Harman has a strong presence in both the residential and professional markets and acquired AMX to participate in both.

    Certainly, we are adjusting our marketing and other programs to fit within the overall Harman initiatives which likely will take some time to work through and you will see some changes. However, the passion and people that have driven AMX for over 30 years are still fully in place.

    There may be a new name on the sign outside, but it's all AMX inside.
  • JasonSJasonS If I had known it was going to be that kind of party... Posts: 227
    jandrulis wrote: »
    Rest assured that AMX is alive and well as part of Harman.
    There may be a new name on the sign outside, but it's all AMX inside.

    To put it bluntly, I think that a lot of us are hoping that Harman has ALOT of influence on AMX. Over the past year I, and a lot of other people in the industry, have become quite disillusioned with AMX. After 10+ years as an AMX programmer, I am not pleased that I may have to move to other systems to stay employed.
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,344
    The Harmon purchase gave me allot of hope when pretty much all hope was gone. I figured an AV centric company like Harmon would bring back pride and quality over profits as long as there were profits and not losses, create better relations with reps and dealers and resurrect resi support and the release of the new distribution amp seemed like a step in the right direction. I never understood why AMX didn't create an amp line when they purchased Matrix audio.

    As soon as iPads become popular in the resi market most resi dealer had a hard time meeting sales requirement so their sales went below AMX's desired threshold so the resi dealer's prices went up, totally counter productive and having amps or anything else usable in the resi market would have help but instead the resi dealers were just cast aside like trash, well at least that I and some others felt. Then to read those first two posts was IMHO the final blow to AMX resi although I know AMX still doesn't want to discourage resi dealers from selling AMX that can and would say anything to keep them they can onboard so I don't know what's genuine and who I can really believe. Time will tell but I would have thought after the purchase Harmon would have made a statement at CEDIA and maybe their small presence was the true statement. I usually try to ignore want salesman and marketing folks have to say since it's often disingenuous but it's good to see a VP taking the time to encourage us. We need it!
  • nicolaunicolau Junior Member Posts: 28
    I am a huge fan of AMX products with a lot of time invested on it, specially programming. IMHO Netlinx programming is the most flexible solution and it is far better than the others. But we are losing the field for "C", "S" and other brand's dealers when they tell our clients that AMX is shrinking. And now, I know that their speech will be reinforced by AMX's "presence" on the last CEDIA. How can I assure my client that the money he is about to invest on a system is on something that will continue to be developed and improved in the future or even exist? That's their speech and what I need to prepare for because I will be asked on this.
    Commercial and residential dealers here are the same. Clients on one side (their companies) are my clients on the other side (their residences).
    A last information, this week I was on a Harman store at Madison Avenue in NYC. None of the salesmen knew AMX and their listening room (high end equipment) was using "C" automation.
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    Have you seen this blog post? Rather puzzling.

    http://blog.amx.com/2014/09/10/programming-vs-configuration-learn-save-hours-days-weeks

    I guess configuring a prebuilt system is far superior to programming it. I guess we programmers are just a bunch of expensive ne'er-do-wells driving costs up and adding no value. I am always amazed at how this attitude prevails even today. Since software can't be "touched", many still believe its value is ephemeral, and should just be free. Music is similar and this is why so many feel justified in stealing it.

    I'm all for configured systems if you have a system that lends itself to being configured, and are happy with the generic results, but its hardly a valid critique of custom programmed systems. The same argument could be made for AMX hardware itself. Why buy an expensive AMX touch panel when there are generic alternatives that are much cheaper? As a skilled programmer I could create a control system without having to buy any retail control system hardware, and just use strictly cheap, generic hardware, so I don't think starting a battle between hardware and software is really a smart move imho.
    Paul
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/03/us-kkr-savant-idUSKBN0GY2PP20140903

    I thought this is interesting. A private equity company has purchased a large stake in Savant. This can only mean profits will be extracted at the expense of quality until the carcass is completely free of nourishing flesh. If I was a Savant programmer I would be a little worried about this move.
    Paul
  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 3709 Posts Posts: 4,135
    A house divided cannot stand... (And other applicable metaphors)

    I have sat through sales pitches by AMX reps who didn't bother to find out who I was or what I did and present the concept that programmers are the problem, not the solution. This has happened to me on five occasions over the years and thus I am always sceptic all when hearing how valuable we are.

    I'm not bitter about it. After all - it's just business. It does, however, speak volumes about the long term success of the industry. I think us folks in the field saw the end of the Resi gravy train long before AMX finally got around to admitting it. (Even if a bit tangentially). It is quite possible that none of us will be doing this in ten years. We all will find ourselves doing completely different things.

    Paul's mention of music is applicable here too. Many of you may know that I have another equally enthralling career as a music producer and audio engineer of some 25 years. I can tell you I hardly recognize the music biz today. I'm fortunate to still be able to cobble together a living doing it and my label still does quite well. (Shameless plug Tremulant Records - http://www.tremulant.com). I can tell you that the demand for physical copies and digital downloads is on an order of single percentages of what it was 10 years ago.

    This same phenomenon is occurring in our AVIT world as well. Those who can navigate those waters will be the survivors. I can tell you (as someone still successfully in music) you have to be quick, mobile, and open to change. Does this sound like a good description of our current situation over here?
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,344
    Infusing Savant with $90 million for a 35% stake doesn't sound like sucking them dry to me. KKR already has a piece of Sonos too. Sounds to me there's a strong future for resi if you do Savant. Temping!
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    vining wrote: »
    Infusing Savant with $90 million for a 35% stake doesn't sound like sucking them dry to me. KKR already has a piece of Sonos too. Sounds to me there's a strong future for resi if you do Savant. Temping!

    It wasn't a gift, it was an investment with an expected ROI. Private equity companies typically aren't looking for a 4% return, they want massive returns. The only way this can typically be done without doing something like curing cancer, is by extracting value from the company to give to investors. With a 35% stake, I'm sure they will be the main player as to how the company operates and profits won't be going back into the company, but to investors. Once that has stripped the company of any viability, the company is sold off. Kind of like what happened with AMX.
    Paul
  • nicolaunicolau Junior Member Posts: 28
    AMX being sold at USD 385 MM, Savant valued at USD 200 MM, Control4 (CTRL on Nasdaq) Market Cap at USD 311 MM...How do you reach Nest's value on Google's acquisition of USD 3.2 Billion? 10 Times Control4? Is it mass market (DIY) potential? No CEDIA guy to install and program? It's the only thing I can imagine. On this CEDIA the move from manufacturers was clear on that direction (DIY). Do it or be swallowed?
  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 3709 Posts Posts: 4,135
    Uh oh... My post got deleted. What wrong thing did I say?
  • ColzieColzie Senior Member Posts: 470
    I am bitter. To have AMX slink away from resi but not fully admit it, and articles like the one Paul posted outlining how AMX PROGRAMMERS are worthless, really gets my blood boiling. I've been 100% AMX for 10 years. Programming is all I do, 80% residential. Yes business is business but part of running a GOOD business is being clear in your company's direction. In writing. With words. Not by having people speculate based on booth size at a trade show. Ugh!
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,344
    Colzie wrote: »
    I am bitter. To have AMX slink away from resi but not fully admit it, and articles like the one Paul posted outlining how AMX PROGRAMMERS are worthless, really gets my blood boiling. I've been 100% AMX for 10 years. Programming is all I do, 80% residential. Yes business is business but part of running a GOOD business is being clear in your company's direction. In writing. With words. Not by having people speculate based on booth size at a trade show. Ugh!

    Being "straight up" is sooo old school. Now a days they keep sucking until the well is completely dry or keep stringing folks along for as long as they serve a purpose after which time they cast folks aside without as much as a thank you or even a good bye. I hope AMX will be old school but since that would affect their bottom line I won't be shocked if they aren't.
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    My guess is AMX gets a lot of feedback about programming costs from dealers. Given the quality of some of the AMX programming I've seen on projects I've taken over, there is a lot of bad programming/design out there that ends up making AMX look bad to the end user. The client can't tell that its the programming/design that sucks, they just know they have an AMX system that doesn't work.

    So programmers in general get blamed, when the real problem is AMX allows dealers to sell AMX that out source their programming or hire weak programmers. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. Its an industry wide problem (software), and it seems the shortcut solution is to not require any programming, just configuration. So they limit the product and sell that instead a la C4, Savant, etc.

    Programming is hard, so a bottleneck develops. A designer can create numerous large projects in a few weeks, but programming them is a different story. Last year I had 1800 hours of programming to do in about 4 months we got so busy, and I'm the only staff programmer. They hired an outside firm to do one of the large projects to free me up, and they messed it up so bad I had to redo it from scratch anyway. So I know bad programming is a really big issue. That project had about a million dollars worth of gear that was sitting idle since nothing worked and the integration company simply walked away from it.

    So I understand why programmers are seen as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution. Programmers, being the last person to touch a system get blamed for bad design, wiring problems, network problems and almost anything else you can think of so its easy to point the finger at the programmer. But often there are many problems going on, and the shortsighted view that its the programmer's fault, leads to more frustration when a C4 or Savant job goes just as badly, as they do. In fact, our company sells all three systems, and the salespeople prefer the AMX systems, simply because there aren't too many issues I can't resolve, be they wiring, networking, programming, hardware, etc.

    The C4/Savant jobs have less experienced people who know nothing about the stack and are easily stumped and projects get held up or have lingering issues that never get resolved. The solution isn't to require less programming, its to have better programmers, but that's a problem that is hard to solve so businesses take the path of least resistance and buy instead of build. The mindset of dealers that they are just selling boxes rather than creating a system is often part of the problem. Its easy to sell boxes and make a profit, but building a cool system the client loves to use, that's hard, but that's what the client is paying for.

    So as I see it, its not just a programming problem and people are realizing that when they switch to non-programmed systems. The one saving grace about AMX is that the salespeople know that pretty much no matter what happens, I can make it work somehow and that gives them a lot of confidence. They don't end up looking stupid to a client that just spent a million dollars by having to say "I don't know what's wrong, let me call C4/Savant" all the time.
    Paul
  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 3709 Posts Posts: 4,135
    All Craig's points are valid. I found myself in a similar situation at an integrator who had designers who would promise the moon and stars and sesign some absolute abominations of systems and I was just the guy who would "make it work." The problem is that that is by it's very nature a poor business model. In the real programming world out there the programmer is not really driving the design, they are just implementing it. The engineers design.

    When an integration firm designs half-baked systems and punts them off to thier staff to implement, those design flaws don't go away, they just get buried with smoke and mirrors. This only drives up the real cost if the project. Oddly enough another skill many integration firms lack is the ability to calculate the true cost of implementing a project. They just throw more smoke grenades up and beat up their salaried staff to work smarter and not harder and beat their hourly employees up about productivity.

    It's complex mane we all have our tribal proclivities. I've been involved in so many parts of the equation over my years that I tend not to take sides. I've just been "that guy" on so many projects that I can't point a finger at any one in particular.

    I still come back to the buck stops at the top. GIGO
  • John NagyJohn Nagy CineTouch Product Manager Posts: 1,479
    As our product is all about configuration without programming, I'm kind of close to the middle of this. In my view, programming is what both distinguishes AMX and holds it back.

    With a good programmer, enough time and enough budget, there's nothing that can't be done on AMX, far exceeding the limits of probably all other control vendors. But if you need to code jockey every job as a custom creation, even with a library of modules, it can take more time for even ordinary jobs that you might like. And changes after deployment are as time consuming (and expensive) on a small custom-coded system as on a large one.

    On the other hand, if you can -productize- a set of features, and build a process that lets you deliver the selected features quickly and reliably WHERE THEY ARE APPROPRIATE, well, that's nothing but WIN. And if that process also enables faster revision and upgrades after deployment while staying on the same hardware, who could argue against it? Indeed, most of the best programmers have built a sort of modularity/configurability into their code writing.

    It's been my experience with many many dealers that their talent more often lies in sales and physical build, and less in programming and graphics. They rely on outside programmers who may not be available for changes, or who hold the dealer hostage with expensive and slow changes. Or they have a single (good!) programmer who is the bottleneck on smaller jobs due to being buried in a couple large custom jobs.

    But the business needs to keep turning jobs to keep the payroll going. Repeatedly, I've seen AMX dealers turn to non-AMX solutions for the "mundane" or small jobs. It once was URC or RTI, then more commonly, C4. Fast deployment, fewer choices but fewer issues, less uncertainty (although often less profit). The outcome of that choice is diluted attention and familiarity with AMX, no upgrade path to AMX for the small jobs, and eventual erosion of custom AMX sales in favor of simpler, faster, cheaper deployments of other brands.

    The RPM software is perhaps the most successful descendent of what was Visual Architect, AMX Home, and other often troubled attempts to provide a more turn-key internal solution for AMX software. Even so, it is EXTREMELY LIMITED in what it does, and makes no bones about it. But it's not evil to have a choice.

    This forum is certainly frequented by top programmers who are quick to catch any whiff of anti-programmer sentiment. These programmers aren't the problem that package solutions are trying to solve. It's the lack of a programmer, or the lack of resources that otherwise deflect jobs to non-AMX systems for AMX dealers that are the problem. Configurable systems are an asset to be used where they help, and not spurned as simply being anti-programmer.

    And yes, AMX needs to be careful how they say it in their marketing... appealing to one segment can insult another.
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    John Nagy wrote: »
    This forum is certainly frequented by top programmers who are quick to catch any whiff of anti-programmer sentiment.

    I'm harsher on bad programmers than any manager or client I've had simply because I know bad programming when I see it. Good programmers wince when they see bad programming since it gives us all a bad name. That's why we are here helping others help themselves. Its one thing to criticize bad programming, I do it all the time, its another to simply blame "programming" for all AMX's ills as if abolishing the need for programming will cure all the problems and make everyone rich.

    In fact, the commoditization of automation systems makes them less appealing in general. Commoditizing a product of service usually makes it less profitable, not more. For some reason the MBAs haven't figured this out yet, and keep trying to commoditize everything, and then scratch their heads when all of a sudden they have all this lower priced competition.
    Paul
  • nicolaunicolau Junior Member Posts: 28
    We use AMX over the last 8 years with great success and always, always I stress, exceed our customers expectations when delivering the system. Our programming is 100% in house and, as a_riot42 wrote, we know how to fast debug a system to solve problems and we can do anything the clients want in terms of functionalities. When we are selling a system we are selling ourselves but also selling the automation system's company, clients like to know the brands they are buying to be confident or just to have the same as his neighbour. I don't see a "configured system" a bad thing if the system is suited for it or the client wants that. We can do better and cheaper than a "configured system" with our developed modules and template designs if needed. What I need is to have my preferred company (by far) to be present so I can feel that we are together but also to show my clients that. We (our company) needed more dealers to work with their products so our competitors can't play the "you will be on their hands" card. Of couse, lower prices for tablets' licenses would also help...
    I was pretty disappointed with AMX's presence on CEDIA 2014 and that's why I started this thread. Being honest, we don't know what direction we will head ourselves. I hope the VP's post is true and they define their strategy fast, clear and on a good direction for me.
  • RicardoSiqueiraRicardoSiqueira Junior Member Posts: 373
    I've been a residential dealer and programmer since 1997. First doing Phast systems then I moved to Netlinx around 2003. Even though I've done and still do projects using "C" and RTI, I prefer AMX due to its programming/customizing flexibilities. AMX is always our first choice, but like others who were present at CEDIA this year, we are very concerned about the future of AMX in the residential market, if any. In the past 4 years, 1/3 of my programming time has been spent on existing AMX systems done by other companies, which under delivered mostly on programming. It is getting harder to convince customers that AMX is a great product line and without some push from AMX and the availability of products geared to the residential market (new remotes), I see that our projects will start moving to the competing brands more often. At first, I thought that the Harman acquisition would eventually improve the residential market by teaming up the flexibility of AMX with the Harman receivers and residential products. That was my hope, but it looks like things may go south for the residential market. We need better news from AMX by Harman.
  • Duncan EllisDuncan Ellis Code Junkie Posts: 104
    I have been programming AMX for 14 years and I think its a shame that they see the residential market as worthless, even more that programmers are worthless.
    Out of all the control systems available, I find AMX the most rounded and flexible. Unlike programmers in other environments, I don't have any worries when I go to site, because I know that one way or another I can get the job done and it doesn't usually require tech support - unless its a hardware issue.
    Control systems such as Control 4, whilst having their place, are not on the same level...they are configurable systems rather than programmed systems.
    Harman's plans seem to be pointing towards commercial/education rather than Residential, thats not hard to see. But, my question is, why would you throw away a market that is worth millions of Pounds/Dollars/Euros per year when, by embracing it with a bit of product development you have a ready made market. Seems nuts to me.
    You could actually see that this was heading this way before the Harman buyout. The 21" & 19" touchpanels are way over most resi budgets and there is a serious lack of product development for the resi market.
    Is it a case of AMX think that CR***RON have the the resi market so lets not bother?

    To do what amounts to abandoning a market, just seems ridiculous. Maybe the idea is to let the dealers create the marketplace, so that no development is necessary???? who knows!
    I've started dealing with C4 and RTI, purely for the fact that there are good interfaces to use and also for the fact that they are requested by customers.....who am I to turn down paying work?

    Someone at AMX really needs a dose of reality and to open their eyes at the market that, once abandoned, will be very hard to get back. It doesn't take much for commercial enterprises to stop spending money, the same applies to education markets. In lean times, high end residential still buys because they already have money to spend .... maybe someone should bear that in mind.

    OK, soapbox put away. Have code to finish, funny enough for a residential project....
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    I have been programming AMX for 14 years and I think its a shame that they see the residential market as worthless, even more that programmers are worthless.

    Good points made. It doesn't really make much sense, and when I see that kind of thing going on it makes me think its the bean counters at work. Someone is looking at an Excel spreadsheet instead of the world at large and making decision based on a cell's contents. AMX already had the market to lose, and are going down without a fight. Since home automation is a growing industry it makes little sense to abandon it. If the CEO gets C******n in his home and it works and he likes it, he will also likely get it in his office.

    You are right about the high end home market still going strong during recessions.
    Paul

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