My publisher Ed Hecht greeted me back to work on the day after Labor Day with this sentiment: “This is one of the worst days of the year.”
His point: The summer is effectively over, and now it’s time to enter what we call the silly season at TWICE. It begins our yearly celebration of tumult, starting with IFA, continuing with CEDIA, surviving the Jewish holidays with my in-laws, then on to CTA Innovate!, the CE industry ADL dinner, the CT Hall of Fame induction, CES Unveiled, Thanksgiving (more in-laws), Black Friday, CES Daily production, Christmas, New Years and before we have time to blink or breathe, CES in Las Vegas (and an earlier one to boot next year!). Before you know it, it’s mid-January.
I have to tell you, I’m tired just thinking about it.
That being said, for someone who has been covering this industry for more than two decades, this is also the time of year when everything that matters happens.
The holiday season sets the tone for the retailers’ 2017. CES sets the tone for the rest of the industry. Will it be a year of evolutionary technology or a year of revolutionary technology? What disruption is coming next? Which retailers will take the lead, which ones will fall behind, and which ones won’t make it through the next year?
All those pictures will come into more focus in the next few months, and as an observer and chronicler of the industry, it is an exciting time, despite the inevitable fatigue and workload craziness. This will be my 24th CES. God help me.
I had a somewhat-heated discussion last week with an industry person, someone in retail, about the relevance of CEDIA to the CE industry. He was complaining about the fact that he is forced to go every year and how he resents the fact that custom installers “steal” a share of his product business.
I retorted that the custom installation and integrator market has kept many a technology company alive by focusing on high-end products — with actual margins — and presents a story to the technology consumer that technology can solve problems and make their lives better.
This has never been more true than today, with the rapidly growing smart home ecosystems that even mainstream retailers are learning to embrace.
The custom market is adapting well to the plethora of simple, plug-and-play smart home system products that used to be anathema to them. After all, if these systems are so easy to piece together, who’s going to need an installer?
But installers know that consumers are more interested in having their needs met and solving problems than doing it themselves. The complete picture that can be offered by the integrator trade is the polar ideal of why technology continues to outsell most other non-necessary product categories.
Some mainstream CE retailers get it and offer robust installation services that add dollars to their sales and loyalty in their customers. The rest should ignore CEDIA at their own peril.