10 Years Ago This Week: An Improving HomeAV Market in a Weak Economy

ten-years-ago-330I found this article form 10 years ago — it was my wrap-up piece form attending CEDIA. I thought the observations about what was dominating the show were interesting, but what was more interesting were my comments about the economy. Ten years ago, we also had a bad economy, but HomeAV tech was interesting enough, back then, to keep the market booming — based on what integrators were telling me back then. Not now! Now they are nearly almost universally telling me that the market is terrible. And, many are saying they might not survive the onslaught of new consumer technologies that are all but replacing the high-end HomeAV business. 
In addition, in speaking to HomeAV manufacturers over the past two months, some are considering discontinuing their HomeAV line of product or are rapidly moving into the digital signage or ProAV space. It will be interesting to see what the CEDIA Expo morphs into in 2014. Whatever it is, it won’t look like the 2013 show.
Here’s my CEDIA wrap-up article from 10-years ago…

cedia-2003CEDIA Rocked, Home Theater Installers Thrive, Sony Keeps Polysilicon LCDs to Itself

By Gary Kayye, CTS

Last week, I attended my eighth CEDIA show and was thoroughly impressed. CEDIA, the leading home theater and home automation show in the world, is like an older person’s toy store. It’s full of all those gizmos and gadgets that we all want in our home. The weirdest thing I saw was a booth from a company called BEYOND who is marketing a line of appliances (including a coffee maker, a microwave oven, a clock radio and even a bread maker) all networked. You may know BEYOND as the company who brought you the first kitchen entertainment system called the ICEBOX that’s a TV, an internet terminal (using Windows CE), an AM/FM radio and DVD/CD player in one – for the kitchen. It’s one of the coolest new gadgets I’ve seen in years, but it’s expensive at a little over $2,000.

However, CEDIA was dominated by displays again. Everything is now HDTV. HDTV projectors, plasmas, LCD TVs and even HD portable DVD players.

More than 22,000 people filed through the CEDIA Show this past week in Indianapolis, Ind. and this bodes well for ICIA and NSCA who are partnering with them for a new show in February called Integrated Systems Europe being held in Geneva, Switzerland February 3-5, 2004. If you’re interested in going, check out the details here.

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There is no question that the home market has continued to boom in the down market economy. I had dinner with a few of the leading home theater integration firms one night of the show and learned that 9/11 sparked their market. Instead of spending money on travel and entertainment, the high-end home owner spent it building a bigger house or integrating entertainment at home with a theater. All three of them claimed that the past two years have been their busiest. And, they say, it’s getting busier. In fact, I noticed that too. I took three courses at CEDIA. In one of them, taught by one of the best instructors I have ever seen, Mr. Bill Organ of Avalon Associates, the instructor asked the attendees (at least 150 people) to raise their hand if this was the first time they had been to CEDIA. A lot more than 60 percent of the class did. Then he asked anyone who was new to the industry to raise their hand, and a good 35 percent did. This shows well for the economy, eventually.

Although many of the products discussed in this issue are CEDIA-related products, out of the over 500 products introduced at the show, I picked the ones that were most appropriate for the ProAV market to review. And threw in a few extras. But, keep in mind that the lines between ProAV and HomeAV are blurring. I know of two major ProAV integration firms going into HomeAV later this year. In addition, I see more and more products that are targeted as cross-over products for both home and pro applications.

Finally, a couple of things I want to point out. Although DLP technology is totally and virtually completely dominating the home theater projection market today (in less than two years after TI -Texas Instruments decided to target the home), Sony showed a killer reflective imaging technology in their booth called SXRD technology. And, speaking of Sony, they made a little-read announcement last month that they will stop shipping raw-component HTPS-LCD panels to other projector manufacturers. There are a lot of manufacturers who get LCDs from Sony and this is sure to affect the market and will surely benefit both EPSON – as they and Sony supply over 90 percent of the raw-component LCD today) and TI, who makes the DLP chips.