Here’s highlights from just a few of CEDIA Talks (20-minute presentations that have been described as “mini-TED-talks”) and other presentations from Friday's offerings at the CEDIA booth at the annual show. Jack Wetherill of Futuresource Consulting on consumer AV market trends (and more).
Wetherill, whose firm collects market intelligence on companies from Netflix to Lego, had a dizzying array of stats he’d culled from a recent research project.
A few biggies that jumped off the screen:
Of the 671 billion-dollar consumer electronics industry, a full 50% of the segment is represented by mobile phones.
AV is 19% of the industry, and it’s up 1.3% year-over-year.
Wireless speakers have seen an incredible 26% growth in sales (that’s a forecast for 2017 over 2016), media streamers are up 13%, and soundbars are up 7%. (Bluetooth speakers drive that growth in emerging markets – we’re talking speakers with a price point less than $100. For the CEDIA channel – the higher-end speakers – Wi-Fi is where it’s at.)
4K UHD panels are on the march: 97 million units were sold in 2016. The projection for 2017? 174 million.
For the smart home, the biggest percentage of sales and service belongs to security and monitoring, but lighting systems and climate control are also big movers.
Luxury audio (defined as a single speaker or amp or other component priced at $5,000 or above) is growing, up around 6% from 2015 to 2016. (A few asides noted by Mr. Witherill: He sees the demand for vinyl dropping from its recent resurgent levels, and noted that the high-end audio manufacturers are drawn to the CEDIA event as opposed to other trade shows – for the obvious reason that CEDIA has a residential focus.)
Lastly, as Witherill dove into the issue of Amazon, Google, and many others feeding the explosion of VUI devices, he has what may have been the PowerPoint slide title of the show: “DIY v CI – FRENEMIES?” As with all the stats and slides and Talks that were given at the booth, look for Witherill’s complete presentation on the CEDIA YouTube Channel. Mitchell Klein of the Z-Wave Alliance on home control in 2020.
Klein began his Talk with a caveat: There’s no way to make a presentation on smart home technology that’s truly current. As new devices and technologies are being developed every millisecond, the chance that any review of what’s happening this instant is nigh impossible.
So what’s happened in the last ten minutes? For starters, the field’s getting crowded – Klein showed a photo of Whole Foods “In-Season/Fresh Pick” display. The items by the placard weren’t produce – they were Amazon Echo units that had been cut in price to $99. Comcast, Verizon, and even IKEA are entering the smart home universe in some fashion or another. Cortana and Alexa are entering into a marriage approved by their parents – yep, Microsoft and Amazon are techie in-laws.
While addressing the challenges of the DIY disruption, Klein noted the opportunities – and the manner in which successful messaging makes the difference. One example: Does Z-Wave sell “lighting?” Of course not – what they’re selling is “never coming home to a dark house.” Henry Clifford on anticipating the client’s pain points.
Clifford, founder of the integration firm Livewire, has a business mantra that’s pretty elegant, albeit simple. To paraphrase something a colleague once told him: “Don’t sell vitamins. Sell medicine.”
Everyone knows the benefits of vitamins. Everyone knows they should take their vitamins. But do they? Nah. But everyone takes their medicine when something’s wrong. Anticipate the illness, and you’re halfway home to a successful business model.
Specifically, what are usually a client’s problem areas? Clifford reckons they’re time, complexity, helplessness, and embarrassment. To tamp down the frustration a client may feel regarding the length of a job – or the delivery of operating instructions face-to-face – Clifford stresses setting very clear expectations. Next, overcome complexity with excellent design and engineering. (Yes, we’ve just reduced thousands of man-hours to a pithy sentence, but still.) Helplessness is another biggie, that feeling that one’s overwhelmed by a system crash – offer 24/7 support and great documentation to offset that one.
And “embarrassment?” That’s the one that cranks the anger meter up to 11 and causes clients to leave voicemails “full of language I actually had to look up,” says Clifford. It’s the moment in the middle of the party when the distributed audio quits or the Super Bowl signal goes dark. Overcome that one with customer training – what Clifford calls “self-medication.” Clifford walks this walk – his employees even pick up bonuses when client issues are demonstrably reduced.