Copious numbers of jet planes have made, and are still making their way to Dallas, each carrying within their fully-loaded bellies, hoards of passengers on their annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of technology – the event formerly known as Expo, now known simply as CEDIA 2016.
But will this be a different CEDIA?…
It’s a new year, and the industry is well on its way to recovering from the dark and deathly days following the 2007 recession. Every industry was hit in that recession, including the custom integration industry, as housing construction collapsed. When people stopped building houses, they stopped needing all those marvelous technology products that make their house a home. The net effect of the decline, a weeding out of the weak and – survival of the fittest.
The industry is still mired in a slow…maddeningly slow…recovery. And yet, there are signs of improvement. Data breaking just as the show is about to begin shows that 2015 was the best year in income growth for the middle class since they began collecting that data. The Washington Post reported that the real median household income rose 5.2% to $56,500 in 2015. This is the largest percentage increase since the Commerce Department started tracking the data.
Middle Class Recovery?
Yes, many of us in the custom integration (CI) industry are working with the one percenters (highly compensated individuals). But many more of us deal with upper middle class – and it is clearly the upwardly mobile upper middle class that contains our future prospective customers. So this is certainly good news.
Much has also changed over the last year at CEDIA. Most notably, Vin Bruno, the new chief executive officer (CEO) has taken the helm – firmly, so it seems – and steered what many feel was a drifting ship in a new direction. Many CEDIA members have picked up on this new momentum. Some embrace it…some reject this new direction.
What’s in a Name?
Between Bruno and the new senior director of marketing, Christine Pyle, there has been a noticeable uptick in marketing communications. On the eve of Bruno’s appointment, CEDIA had invested (heavily we are told) in a new branding package with a new logo. There was a changeover in directors and, as Strata-gee announced today, yet another change in directors is coming.
Recently, in a presentation, Bruno said that it is time to change the description of CEDIA members. Bruno said the organization feels that the proper title for what most of us do is home technology professional. Some feel the designation “integrator” is too confusing to consumers. Yet many have told us that the title home technology professional seems too generic.
The Making of a Bigger CEDIA
Today, CEDIA announced it has merged with CEDIA EMEA – or perhaps more accurately – CEDIA EMEA has been merged into CEDIA U.S. This was an interesting development as CEDIA EMEA was an independent company that paid a licensing fee to CEDIA US to use the name in Europe. This creates a new, larger, farther-flung (if not quite fully global yet) organization.
This is a big change. CEDIA is a bigger organization – much bigger. But will that make CEDIA stronger? Or will this make it more diverse, diffuse, with outposts in markets much different than the U.S. – with different priorities and needs?
The Growing Influence of Sonos
In an earlier post, we noted that Sonos was poised to make a huge showing. Sonos, a company that many considered the king of the do-it-yourself (DIY) crowd, has been coming to the CEDIA show for a few years now. Yet, for a good amount of that time, they were not successful in gaining a lot of traction with integrators – who complained that the company’s products were not profitable for the installer. Not only that, but the company publishes their 800 number in the materials included with their products, in an effort – many integrators told us – to try and steal that customer away from the integrator and sell to them directly.
But then, more and more integrators began adding the brand. Why? Resistance was futile – Sonos had done such a good job of creating consumer awareness and demand, that even integrators had clients asking for it. Now, at this show, Sonos will show integration solutions with major brands of control and automation solutions…such as Control4, Savant, Lutron, iPort and even Crestron.
The Decentralization of Crestron
And speaking of Crestron – as long time Strata-gee readers have likely noticed, we’ve been doing that more lately – this show will represent a huge change for their presence. In years past, Crestron had the largest booth presence on the show floor – as well as being one of the largest sponsors of the event with Crestron logos everywhere.
Then in February, Crestron announced they were pulling out of the show. As we recently reported, Crestron is back. And even though they are in a much more modest booth shared with Amazon Alexa no less – Crestron will make up for that with displays all around the show in the booths of their “integration partners.”
Meeting in the Middle
And, closing the loop, one of those partners is Sonos. Creston integrating with Sonos? That is most definitely a development that no one could have possibly anticipated even two years ago.
A bigger, more diverse CEDIA…a more influential Sonos…a smaller more decentralized Crestron…and a new name for who we are (home technology professionals)…whew, that’s a lot of change.
Change is inevitable. And human beings tend to resist change.
So…will this be a different CEDIA?