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Interview: Tom Back, Alcons Audio

David Davies 26 January 2011
Interview: Tom Back, Alcons Audio

The Alcons Audio MD discusses his company’s involvement in the ISE 3D Theatre and the factors likely to affect the installation market this year.

What’s your involvement with ISE this year, and how long have you been exhibiting here?

ISE is constantly deploying new initiatives and developing new angles to the show, investing in the long-term position of the event. One example is the initiative to bring parties together to realise the ISE 3D Theatre: a showcase of state-of-the-art audio and video technologies for the cinema/3D experience. Alcons is very happy to be involved in this project to demonstrate its pro-ribbon transducer-based ‘cinevisual sound systems’.

Alcons Audio has been exhibiting at ISE since 2005, relatively shortly after the commercial start of the company. Although the dedicated ‘installers/contractors’ trade show was new to the European marketplace, it is clear that over the years, ISE was able to crystallise its target groups and position [itself] in the trade show market. In that sense, it reflects the growing professionalism of the installation business as well as the increasing integration of different disciplines (audio and video in their widest forms). The ISE attracts a visitor group that we meet nowhere else; installers and consultants active in home cinema, theatre, the AV market, to name just a few.

How do you see the ISE market faring in the EMEA region in 2011?

Hmm, where’s the crystal ball..? Well, Europe will [continue to] be split into the struggling countries and those [which] are still in a good condition to benefit from the general ‘upbeat’ economic mood.

It’s a scattered picture: Southern European countries will not contribute so much to EU growth as Northern European countries. Government spending and investment programmes are important for the relatively ‘late-cycle’ pro-audio/video market. For instance, digital cinema roll-out funding contributes to investment impulses for sound systems, screens, cinema theatre upgrading, etc.

The Middle East will still be a strong territory for many manufacturers, although the [pronounced] ‘building boom’ is not present anymore.

What do you think will be the key external factors affecting the market this year?

Firstly, the regained confidence in economic recovery – to be followed by the actual recovery. Without this confidence, no market can flourish (spending/investment needs to go up!).

Secondly, there will be an increasingly fast-growing demand from the end-user for integration of technologies, as well as simplification of user control at the same time (eg. the ‘iPhone/iPad evolution’).

Thirdly, as the possibilities grow, the essential know-how of the integrator is increasing. As solutions provider, the integrator will consult with the manufacturer, who needs to invest more in direct application support.

Other developments will include reduced prices for media storage and increased control system requirements [pertaining] to government regulations, sound pollution issues, liability, etc.

Outside your organisation’s offering, what do you think will be the ‘star’ technologies of 2011?

There are so many great developments being introduced, it is difficult to pick one. In general, I would say the technologies that offer increased resolution and control (easier networkable audio/video/data). Also, further penetration of 3D experience technologies.

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