InfoComm Courts Residential Installers
At this year's show, the lines between the commercial and consumer A/V markets continued to blur
By Grant Clauser
Commercial is going residential; residential is going commercial. The line between the two is becoming less well-defined as display and distribution systems for both markets begin to look more alike than not. That blending of technologies and markets (as well as installers) was a common theme at this year's InfoComm Expo, held by the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA) in Las Vegas last month. Both attendance and exhibitor numbers were up this year, with more than 25,000 attendees and 725 exhibitors.
Industry watchers have noted the convergence of technology, but at this show the convergence of markets was as important a theme. In fact, Custom Retailer was recruited by the ICIA this year as the sole media sponsor of the show's first residential pavilion—an area of the expo hall focused on the home user.
Avi Levy, president of distributor KrystalVision, noted that while his company serves all kinds of dealers and installers, primarily commercial, there's really no way to ensure where products are going these days. While some manufacturers are trying to control the flow throughout the market of product, it's becoming an increasingly difficult task, he said as he pointed to the plasma monitors in his booth. "These are all commercial, but all of those can go into a home too," explained Levy. "In the end, some percent of products will end up in the home."
As the industry converges, it's not only integrators getting into the action, but home builders as well. Peter Hurley, manager of the Pro AV Team at distributor Stampede, said his company recently developed a home builder program that turns the builder into the reseller. Through the program, builders are able to offer home theater systems and multi-room audio systems to consumers without the involvement of a separate custom retailer or installer. Stampede offers builders private-label web sites where they can sell consumers pre-bundled A/V solutions. The distributor offers a tech-help hotline, model home packages and supplemental material to builders.