What Nest's Acquisition and InfoComm Appearance by Top IT Brands Mean for Integrators
1/15/2014 6:51 AM
This year may be remembered as the year that AV and IT accelerated its convergence and home automation became a household term.
may seem a touch early in 2014 to make such bold predictions, but as I
saw the custom AV industry roaring back to life last year, it was no
surprise this week to see Google and Microsoft (two of the world's
biggest IT brands) making waves in our industry.
like to make a case for why this week's headlines means big
opportunities may be ahead for custom integrators in the coming months.Microsoft Headlines InfoComm 2014
Microsoft. The king of operating systems has been making serious
hardware plays with the Xbox One, a remarkable piece of hardware that it
hopes will be the true center of the home media experience. The Kinect
sensor adds Skype to the mix, giving consumers a taste of fully
integrated video conferencing.
Add in the Surface tablet
and Nokia Lumia smartphone, and Microsoft has the hardware to reach
into homes to power serious automation and rich media experiences.
week, Microsoft announced that it will be exhibiting at InfoComm 2014
. It wasn't lost on anyone that it now joins Crestron — a
Microsoft partner — as the pair of Platinum Sponsors for the event.
the press release announcing the move, InfoComm executive director and
CEO David Labuskes called the addition of Microsoft "an important
milestone in InfoComm’s history.... The decade-long conversation about
the convergence of AV and IT technology has been realized."
Convergence is the big watchword here; more on that in a minute.
the most well-known brands in control and automation systems (Crestron)
and IT (Microsoft) will no doubt have some interesting new and existing
product enhancements for integrators in the near future.Google Buys Nest, the Smart Thermostat Company
more interesting is Google's purchase of Nest for a cool $3.2 billion
It's the latest example of the internet giant looking to leverage its
internet "big data" expertise within real-world devices (think
self-driving cars and now smart home devices.)
Fadell, CEO of Nest, gave the keynote at CEDIA last year in Denver. To
the relief of many in the crowd, he announced that the company was
opening up its API (programming interface) to the industry with Control4
as its first partner, and offered product development highlights while
reiterating Nest’s commitment to the custom installation channel.
recent years, Nest’s new owner, Google, has taken its intelligent
search advertising technology that my company leverages for custom
integrators and applied it to artificial intelligence, developing what
Slate's Will Oremus calls machine-learning.
"[Google's] goal is to imbue machines with the ability to respond and
adapt themselves to human behaviors and environments, so that machines
become not only more personalized, but fundamentally more human-like…
The acquisition of Nest implies that Google sees the home, along with
the car and the smartphone, as one of the primary frontiers for this
"The end goal," continues Oremus, "would be a
home that gets to know you better the more you use it—not entirely
unlike the vision of the automated home that you saw in The Jetsons."
The Nest is Google's first shot across the bow, with Google Now
smartphone app integration the next logical step.
What It Means for Integrators
week's announcements have set the internet and AV industry at large
abuzz, with reactions ranging from “no surprise” to “convergence is
finally at hand.” For years, integrators have looked for the perfect set
of network-connected products that make it easy for clients to automate
control of their homes, while delivering a healthy profit margin and
opportunity for recurring revenue to maintain and support the products.
This necessitates the coming together (convergence) of AV and IT, and
there's no doubt that Google and Microsoft are potentially the brands
most well-positioned to pull it off.
proliferation of smartphones and tablets, consumers at all levels of
income are becoming comfortable with sophisticated technologies that
give them access to and control of their homes. Home automation is the
next natural step.
The opportunity for integrators is
clear. In 2013, 1.8 million home automation systems were installed in
the United States. Twelve million new systems may be installed by 2016
(SecurityInfowatch.com). While integrators wait for new products powered
by Google and Microsoft innovations, this month's headlines also means
there's heightened awareness of home automation itself by consumers
hungry to learn more.
As 2013 came to a close, Google's
local search data shows that internet searches related to home
automation products increased more than 11 percent in Q3, with clicks
growing 16 percent in October, November, and December. Of particular
interest was mobile and tablet searches growing 46 percent and 54
percent respectively in recent months.
The bottom line
is that it's never been more important for integrators to be found in
their local market during every research cycle for home automation and
related services. We encourage all custom integrators to be assertive
locally with their marketing. Take a stand for your market online in
2014 and beyond as the convergence of AV and IT occurs with the help of
Microsoft and Google, leading to new installation opportunities for your
Brendan Morrissey is CEO of Netsertive
(www.netsertive.com), a Google Premier SMB Partner that provides
assertive, local online advertising for custom integrators to take the
lead in their market to be found and install more.