TWICE:What is your retailers’ view of the home automation market?Are consumers grasping the concept and buying systems?
Jeff Davis, senior VP of sales, D&H Distributing: Yes, consumers are grasping the concept and have been receptive, but it’s still early in the development of the home automation market. Vendors in this space are working hard to establish traction, as more and more devices are being introduced to the market. By fourth quarter, we might start to see the results of those efforts begin to take off.
Rick Wigen, product management VP, Almo: Forward-thinking retailers are beginning to show home automation options. Many of them are getting more involved with this category to add value to traditional retail business. Packages including lighting, HVAC control, security and sound are beginning to be offered by those dealers that have qualified designers and installers. Consumers are learning more about the category through the media and are receptive to the ideas presented to them by these value added electronics retailers
Curt Hayes, president/CFO, Capitol: Recent introductions from NuVo and Nest are helping to familiarize a wider consumer audience with the possibilities of home automation. There is a strong potential for really making home automation a more common feature in today’s homes if retailers and manufacturers focus on simplifying the message while continuing to offer truly user-friendly products.
Alexandra Harding, vendor management director, Ingram Micro Consumer Electronics (IMCE): While home automation has been in existence for many years, it has only been recently that it has become affordable and user friendly to a broader base of consumers. As a result, IMCE has seen an increase in demand for consumer-oriented home automation components. IMCE retailers, as well as and manufacturers like Samsung, Belkin and Philips Hue have taken notice of the growing interest by expanding their product offering to include app-based home automation products.
Dennis Holzer, executive director, Power-House Alliance: Our dealers understand there is an increasing demand for home automation and are actively doing everything they can to better understand the category and features, learn the key vendors who have products available, and lastly what is involved with the installation. In addition we are continually hosting trainings and open houses to help our dealers better understand all categories involved in home automation, the key products/features, the installation techniques needed, and lastly the key selling points to pass on to their customers so they understand what the benefits are. Home automation can include security, networking, door locks, lighting and much more. We have just begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg on this category.
Fred Towns, president, New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games: Although the buzz around home automation has been building, our retailers would agree that it’s still a work in progress.
Products like electronic thermostats and home security systems are seeing the most success at retail. In order to get consumers to fully adopt this market, manufacturers need to focus on solutions that are easy for the average consumer to install and use. Sales will start to increase as more user-friendly solutions come to market, especially for products that link to the smartphone.
Be on the lookout for app-enabled, Bluetooth systems that can unlock your home. Imagine a friend who needs to get into your house while you’re at work. You send a temporary access key straight to their smartphone which allows them to wave it in front of the door to gain access. Remote monitoring systems that control elements such as lighting, climate and security will continue to become more widely adopted. For the security piece, the key is convincing customers that cloud-based security systems are truly secure. Innovative LED lighting capabilities such as light bulbs equipped with Wi-Fi repeaters throughout a home and similar technologies are on the horizon but still a ways off from full-scale adoption.
Google’s investment in Nest indicates the home automation market is well on its way. This market is one to watch closely and stay ahead of over the next few years, as Strategy Analytics projects the broader smart home market to reach $72 billion by 2017.