HomeToys Interview – BMB Electronics
Author: Martin Harding, BMB Electronics
How do you, as BMB, differentiate yourself from your competitors who offer similar products?
BMB Electronics B.V. is one of the leading distributors and trade suppliers to installers, system integrators and retailers all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Our customers cover a very broad spectrum from specialized self-employed contractors to major multi-national corporations.
There are many choices of custom and A/V suppliers today, offering a myriad of different brands, so why should you choose to work with the BMB team instead of other companies? While brands come and go in terms of popularity, price or performance we believe it is important that companies work with people they can trust and who can be relied on to deliver good solutions, good service and fair prices. In the custom A/V business the old saying ‘the service is remembered long after the price is forgotten’ is still very true. In an industry like ours that relies on referrals and repeat business from our customers. It is imperative that professional long term service can be provided - sometimes many years after the sale is made.
One of the other differentiating factors is that our team has many, many years of experience to call on, whether its integration support, technical questions or service and repairs. Why trust your business to companies who seem to know less than you about the products that you sell? We back this up by offering regular and free training sessions at our or the clients office.
Has the world wide recession influenced your company?
We are all facing a challenging global economy and of course this has had an effect on our business. However, we’re still here and are ‘weathering the storm’! We have good, experienced people all over Europe who can support our customers locally and in their own languages, which is a great advantage in a support based industry like ours. Also, as we do business all over Europe and have products and solutions in many different areas we can ‘spread the risk,’ unlike some companies who are totally focussed on one market or one product line.
Do you feel that the current recession is pulling prices down and that end-users have less money to spend?
In general it is true that people are being very careful with their money at the moment! In our custom division people who buy our products at the high-end level still spend money on good quality installs, but they may economise by reducing the cost of a total job by reducing the amount of rooms they include in a system. Generally we find that these customers don’t compromise on quality, just on quantity.
Our other division, what we call ‘affordable home automation’ focuses more on the retail market definitely feels this downward price pressure more, as the products are aimed at the lower cost part of the market where price is a major issue. To capitalise on our 20 years of experience in the low cost ‘plug and play’ part of the market we introduced our own brand ebode at the beginning of this year to attack the lower cost part of the market. Because we are designing and sourcing these products ourselves we are able to hit attractive price points and offer our dealers good margin. For example – we have just launched our own new ebode InfraRed products. Not only do the products hit great price points but they also feature all the latest technology and features.
Let’s move on to a more fun subject: do you have any hot products coming out soon?
As just said we’ve launched the ebode InfraRed Series. We know from the market place that there are a lot of new InfraRed codes in remote controls that are difficult to reproduce. Therefore, we made sure that our IR products provides accurate reproduction of the latest generation InfraRed codes that are used in remote controls of, for instance, set-top boxes and media players. We looked at specific countries and difficult codes and made sure they are included, i.e. the RC5/6 and RCMM codes in the Netherlands, the XMP codes in the UK, and the Foxtel’s for Australia. All these codes are included in all products; from the low cost battery powered products to the professional custom install products.
Another hot product that is coming out soon is the URC Total Control Home Automation line. URC is having an even larger presence at ISE 2011 than previous years to introduce these new products. The Total Control line encompasses everything from network system controllers, to network switches, multi-zone audio amplifiers, a streaming network player, surveillance cameras, keypads, and two new remote controls.
How is the iPod/iPad affecting the CI business?
This impact of the iPod/iPad is enormous in our business. As a company you can either complain about it, or embrace this development – which we try to do at BMB. In our case, our main suppliers DO have solutions to integrate iPod/iPad into their systems anyway, so iPod/iPad doesn’t replace a system but becomes a controller for it. Take the PSX-2 iPod dock from URC for example. This AV iPod dock with built in automation for the iPod provides high-end music server functionality via any programmable control system and a TV. It gives you options you only dreamed of before, like play more from this artist, shuffle my jazz, alphabetically search and the intuitive ability to create a play list for a party from any keypad or remote control on their TV set.
Another supplier who supports the iPod development is Niles. With the ZR-6 multi-room system you can enjoy your digital music when and where you want it. You simply connect your iPod to the ZR-6 using the supplied cable. All the communication and control commands for the iPod are built-in. Instantly, you’re up and running and your iPod can be played throughout your home. The Solo®-6MD keypads and TS-PRO touch screens have LCD screens that display songs, titles, artists, and playlists that simplify operation. Lastly, ReQuest’s ‘NetSync for iTunes’synchronizes songs, playlists, and metadata between multiple iPods and a ReQuest server. By using your iTunes on your computer to add music, update metadata, and create playlists, the changes are also made on the ReQuest server and are available throughout the entire house. NetSync for iTunes utilizes the ReQuest Automatic Dual Encoding (ADE) engine ensuring the highest fidelity WAV music files are automatically played back for home listening and a second lower resolution version is used for streaming or for playback on the iPods or iPhone. This system works both on PC and Mac.
Are integrators responding favourably to the iPod/iPad movement or is there resistance to change?
I think it’s safe to say that due to the popularity of the iPod/iPad that almost every home entertainment system now has at the very least an iPod dock. It would in fact be very hard these days to sell a product line that did not integrate with iPod in some way! We support our integrators with this, by making sure we can offer the right products to them, so they can please their customers.
Can integrators profit from this movement --- and how?
If they are clever. Yes. The customer wants to use their iPod/iPad as a part of their system, so as long as the installer has the knowledge to make this happen to the customers satisfaction then there is money to be made. iPod/iPad can actually introduce customers to the whole experience and technology of digital music, videos. WiFi, applications etc so that the installer can build a system around an iPod/iPad instead of complaining that they have for example lost the sales of a remote control to an iPod.
What about 3-D TV in the home? Do you think there is a market for it based on the current technology?
We think that 3-D TV is a great development. In the theatre the 3D glasses are not such an issue – but we have our doubts whether 3D Home TVs where you have to wear the special glasses will take off for home use. It’s more likely that the new technology where you don’t have to wear the special glasses is more likely to take off for home use – when the prices come down!
Where should we be looking for future advancements in products and technology in our industry?
Customer interfaces, Wireless, Small, Slim and invisible are all words that come to mind! Looking at our own products we see a future for network solution products like the new line from URC.
What makes Europe different from other home tech marketplaces?
An important factor in Europe and what a lot of foreign companies seem to underestimate is the inconsistency between countries! You hear many companies refer to ‘Europe’ as if it were a country – but this is obviously not the case. Firstly there is the obvious language barrier. Even though most people in countries like The Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries have no trouble at all in asking in English for tech support or reading English manuals, that is not the case in most countries. For countries like France, Spain and Germany it’s essential that you offer support and manuals in these languages. That’s why we decided to offer our new ebode products with manuals in English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian!
Secondly there are many small, but important social differences between the countries in Europe. Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands all border each other, but have very different cultures. Germans are generally extremely polite and structured in their approach, where the Dutch however are much more direct and will tell you straight away what they think. This straightforward attitude is appreciated by some other European countries, but is seen as very arrogant or rude in others!
A more practical issue is that of duties, taxes and documentation. Even though there is free traffic of products and service in the European Union, a lot of countries where we do business are not yet part of this union and have their own strict rules about importing products. That takes a lot of time and experience!