KnowledgeFest Attendance Breaks 1K Ceiling

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DALLAS —

What a difference a year can make.

Last year, the story of KnowledgeFest was its resurrection of a trade show. While the 2010 show, put on by the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) late last month, boasted about 800 pre-registrations, Chris Cook, MERA’s president, noted that retailers were often sending just one person to attend.

This year, he said, they brought their entire staffs.

Although the official audited attendance numbers weren’t available at press time, Cook provided TWICE with MERA’s own estimates. Pre-registrations broke the 1,000 mark, and the show had attendees from 45 U.S. states, including Hawaii and Alaska.

Nearly 60 percent of the attendees were owner managers of retailers, he said, which is up 37 percent from last year. There were 61 exhibitors vs. 2010’s 40, and the show floor increased to 75,000 square feet from 50,000 square feet.

“Seeing the industry coming together with a common purpose to grow and to network and to learn from each other was very positive,” Cook said. “Knowing that we as an industry until last year didn’t have a show because the old MERA had to stop doing KnowledgeFest, it was exciting to see the first-year investment paid off into what became a very more robust showing the second year. We’re anticipating a good 50 percent increase for next year just based on what we’re seeing.”

Regarding next year’s show, which will be held Aug. 26-28, 2012, Cook said MERA will possibly dedicate time for attendee education that is separate from the exhibiting hours. He received many requests from manufacturers who wanted to attend the education seminars but were unable to do so because of they were on the exhibit floor.

Many manufacturers used the show to introduce new products.

Mobileye

, for example, took the opportunity to announce the update of its line of collision-prevention systems. It now has an audio-only version of its flagship C2-270 collision- prevention system ($649 suggested retail).

The C2-200 does not come with the EyeWatch visual display, although it can be purchased separately. It does feature Mobileye’s Headway Monitoring and Warning alerts, designed to help drivers keep a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead by notifying when a driver is following too closely.

It also has Forward Collision Warning — which alerts up to 2.7 seconds before an imminent collision — and the Pedestrian Collision Warning alerts. A Lane Departure Warning feature warns of unintentional deviation from the driving lanes, Mobileye said.

The C2-200 will be available in October. The Eye- Watch visual display can be purchased for $199.

Mobileye also said it will unveil two new safety features in the next two months. The Speed-Limit Indication will recognize and read speed-limit signs (including electronic signs), and will warn drivers when they exceed the driver’s chosen level limit. The Intelligent High-Beam Control will automatically raise and lower the high beam based on oncoming or preceding traffic.

PowerBass USA

said it has begun shipping its 3XL woofer series, offered in 12-inch and 15-inch models.

The 3XL-122D (12-inch) and 3XL-152D (15-inch) are dual 2-ohm subwoofers designed for ported enclosures, PowerBass said, with a 3-inch voice coil that aids the woofer in achieving its high power handling of 850 watts RMS (1,700 peak). They are built on a CNC castaluminum basket with triple-stacked magnets. Suggested retail is $599.

Boston Acoustics

announced it is partnering with In Car Experts (ICE) to strengthen its support for the independent specialist.

ICE is a buying group for mobile electronics retailers.

The newly formed relationship will consist of Boston Acoustics funding of ICE marketing tools, an enhanced ICE member program and co-op that can be used towards ICE membership, Boston Acoustics said.

An ICE dealer locator has also been placed on the Boston Mobile website. ICE will create a Boston Acoustics feedback committee that will assist Boston leadership in future product and program development, according to Boston. The committee will be comprised of current Boston retailers, non-Boston retailers and previous Boston retailers.

Boston Acoustics’ parent company is D&M Holdings.

Shortly after the show, MERA announced that it had reached an agreement with

Revenew

to deploy its Channel Networking platform to benefit MERA supplier and retail members.

The agreement was finalized at KnowledgeFest.

ROL (Revenew Online) helps product suppliers market through the suppliers’ resellers by providing marketing services and support. In its role with MERA, the company will establish a single platform that suppliers and retailers can use to more easily convey product information to consumers, the trade group said.

Cook called Revenew “a single system we can use to send a manufacturer’s message to a group of retailers, and through to their customers, and have it be effective. In our efforts to increase consumer awareness and bring more customers through our retailers’ doors, this will be a great tool.”

As part of the program, MERA members that agree to participate will have access to Revenew Online, a website that will host suppliers marketing programs and facilitate funding of retail marketing activities by those suppliers. In addition, Revenew will provide training and support to retail members to help them best take advantage of supplier programs.

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