In recent years, the term “native” has entered the lexicon of the AV industry as the ultimate level of platform integration, and is closely correlated with providing the highest level of customer experience. Make sense on the surface, right? Theoretically, if a solution is “native”, all of the pieces fit nicely together like a puzzle, requiring less effort for integration and allowing less room for error for the end user. Well, to the astute observer, that’s really only half the story! So what’s the difference between integrated and native?
Let’s take an example from Microsoft. Microsoft Office is native to the Windows OS. Each individual program is tightly tuned to interact well with the other, and moreover, the total experience within the Windows environment seems natural. However, anyone who’s tried to make the transition to the Mac environment knows the pain associated with trying to get the full Microsoft Office experience outside of its “native surrounding”. Is it technically integrated? Sure. But the cringe-worthy quirks, nuances, incompatibility issues sometimes compel a user to heave their computer out the window!
True “native” solutions add additional value beyond just being “integrated”. Of course, we expect a native solution to work seamlessly together across the signal chain (which means less time you need to spend creating those “integration” points). But you should ALSO expect that by combining all of these native pieces that they maximize the performance AND value of the greater platform. For example, when you combine a given manufacturer’s processor with the same manufacturer’s network amplifiers and loudspeakers, you would expect that not only do these components work together, but the entire system as a whole is performing better than if it was comprised of disparate manufacturer components, right?!
Let’s take that example one step further to issues that are not always apparent on the invoice. A native solution also infers that its manufacturer has fully vetted each component in the portfolio and knows precisely how it performs in the wild, knows its limits, and knows how to troubleshoot the entire system. If you combine a given manufacturer’s processor with NON-NATIVE amplifiers (for example), you are integrating a device that is untested and unsupported by the processor’s manufacturer. Aside from the added installation time (and cost!), there’s no guarantee the non-native solution will work the way you expect it to. And if that device fails, you might spend more time troubleshooting and potentially more time re-integrating the device, leading to much higher costs over the lifetime of the system.
While no system is completely bulletproof, a native solution means that there is a single source to turn to when issues arise. You get the peace of mind of knowing that someone intimately knows the signal chain of each component and is able to support the whole system.
Native is so much more than being integrated. Native means each component is designed to work seamlessly together AND draw the very best performance across the signal chain in a way that cannot be matched by a disparate collection of non-native devices. It means simpler integration, expedited deployment and an overall better performance for your customers. So next time you are designing an AV&C system, it’s time to go native.