Last week at CEDIA EXPO, positive energy was clearly in abundance for the first time in many years as integrators road the wave of a rebounding housing market, manufacturers showed more product innovation after banks freed up more development dollars, and Denver served its final year as our favorite EXPO host city. The only “good-news, bad-news” story that I observed during the show involved Control4’s acquisition of software house Extra Vegetables’ and the adverse affect that business deal had on URC dealers.
EV is known for producing drivers and control modules for products with inflexible platforms, such as those from Nest and Sonos. As a result of the C4 purchase, it was announced that modules that Control4 dealers had been paying for would now be available to them for free, but that URC dealers who had purchased control modules from Extra Vegetables would have their accounts closed, technical support eliminated and, quoting from the EV newsletter, their “…details…deleted from our systems.”
This got my attention, so I visited with URC at CEDIA, connecting with Cat Toomey and Mitchell Klein. Toomey told me that URC had been totally blindsided by the announcement, having found out from dealers that had received a newsletter from Extra Vegetables. URC did not receive the newsletter or any other form of notification directly from EV.
Toomey told me that URC is meeting this week to develop its own Sonos module, and that it will be supplied to URC dealers free of charge. She explained that while EV did provide a key module, it was only one of about 75 two-way modules available for URC products.
URC demonstrated modules for Nest, Lutron Caseta, DSC Security, and more during EXPO.
URC’s new SNP-2 Streaming Network Player is designed to be faster than its predecessor.
“Our own URC module development and partner program has been in full swing for years and will continue to be a strong part of our delivery to dealers,” Toomey said. “The great thing is we are not reliant on third-party developers. We are in progress on Sonos as we speak and will do whatever it takes to support the product, our dealers, and their customers.”
I also saw that URC has a lot of options for streaming music for dealers including working with the new Denon HEOS wireless audio system. URC has been working very closely with Denon, and the URC HEOS module is the first available from any manufacturer.
I had a chance to try out URC’s own new Streaming Network Player in action, the SNP-2. Ironically, this product was launched and began shipping the very day of the Control4 announcement. I was told that it’s dramatically faster than its predecessor, the SNP-1 and that it works with all of the popular music service and also accesses collections on stored NAS drives, PCs, and Macs.
“We are excited about the category and the new SNP-2, Denon Heos, and our forthcoming own directly available and supported Sonos module,” Toomey told me. “Our business philosophy is to do what we have always done and continue firm commitment to all dealers—regardless of who they purchase from—and the ongoing success of entire industry.”
UPDATE: In an apparent about-face Control4-owner Extra Vegetables has extended the accounts of URC dealers for 12 months. Read that story here.