As the holidays continues to creep closer and 2015 comes to an end, I wanted to take a look back at what worked this year and what did not. Which technologies are on the rise, and which ones are going the way of the dinosaurs?
Next Revolution in Whole House Audio: Sonos is primetime, and as I ask patrons, many have now heard the name of the company. Sonos has changed the face of whole-house music, and next up, they’re out to change surround sound. Like it or not this is what Sonos was demonstrating at CEDIA this year, and they have the funds to push it. Be aware of the advantages and pitfalls.
When introducing clients to “wireless audio,” there is always confusion when explaining what “wireless” actually means. They believe these are magic speakers powered by unicorn dust, so I am forced to explain that systems are more “fewer wires” than “completely wireless.” I also introduce Sonos as a software company and not a speaker company. Its speakers sound decent, certainly not excellent. Pair a Sonos app with a great pair of speakers, however, and now you have a system!
This year we also saw the introduction of Yamaha's MusicCast, and growth in DTS's Play-Fi now adopted by companies like Paradigm and Polk. It is easier than ever before to have music throughout the house—no more excuses. Make sure your team is up to date on these systems.
The Rise of the Invisible: It is easy to sell a TV and even easier to sell a soundbar to go with it, but that will not keep your company afloat. We know the network will continue to play an ever more important role in the home, and for this reason, selling enterprise-grade routers and wireless access points is not only needed for your systems but for your company’s long-term health and the client's overall satisfaction, as well. The key becomes selling them these “invisible” devices after they see they can get them for less than $100 online or at the big-box stores. How do you handle this challenge?
The network is not the only invisible service. Lighting control has become more cost effective than ever before. With the ease of programming on new systems like Crestron’s Pyng (even sales can do it) lighting control has become less about touching buttons and more about the quality of life—lights that turn themselves on and off. No longer think motion detector, but the amount of light outside. Beyond that, clients are finally able to access and make changes if needed, and this is a huge plus for them. Once again, this is a service we can supply but not one that can be seen or held like the crazy remotes of the past.
Can I add 4K as a new technology that no one can see in their home as an invisible technology? Maybe, that will change in 2016. Maybe.
Service Remains Strong: For now, service remains an item one cannot purchase on the World Wide Web, and many clients do not like the idea of having the big-box stores in their homes. Winning the client over and learning their lifestyle remains a place where others cannot compete. Whether it is hanging a flat screen over the fireplace, or installing a surround system, service remains the top reason one places a call. It is up to us to then let the client know we are more than a TV company; we are their technologies.
Streaming has Gone Mainstream: Streaming is not a big profit maker, but a great add on to get your client to use your services for life. It seems like every demographic these days is beginning to stream media. If we can teach them simpler ways to access this media, you can truly win over the client. Back to service topic above, you might not make anything off that Apple TV, but they’ll be sure to call you for their new basement system now that you have introduced them to the magic.
The new year will be here before we know it, and by playing our cards right and understanding the industry, we can make sure the bottom line does not suffer so we can continue to be there for the clients for years to come.
What technology have you seen rise to the top this year?