On the other hand, CES traditionally has been the place where dealers can meet with their vendors. In fact, CES may be the only opportunity all year for smaller dealers to interact with the highest-level executives at the larger CE companies. Having been a dealer, I can tell you that these meetings were extremely important to my company.
What at this year’s show is specifically geared for the custom/specialty dealer audience?
Seems to me the “convergence” we have been talking about for years has been happening and has started to pick up the pace. Just look at the proliferation of Media Center-based platforms now available. I was amazed at what I saw [at EHX Fall]. Expect to see more at CES, especially with the new Windows Vista coming to market.
Just take a look at the applications available to the consumer on any Media Center-based home page. If you’re not able to fulfill any of these applications—either product- or service-wise—then you cannot offer your customer a complete solution. Many dealers and installers already offer solutions for audio and video distribution throughout the house, but what about lighting control? Now there’s an application, home lighting control, that I think many should explore. It’s a natural extension springing out of lighting applications used in the home theater setting.
Another group of products catching my attention is the single-zone media server system that would appear to replace a home theater system as we know it today. One system offers a terabyte of media storage, multiple channels of amplification and is packaged like a home theater receiver—a complete system including speakers is offered. Pricing is affordable, being a single-zone solution with minimal installation required, and these provide an entry-level solution. Loading customers’ media onto servers is a service that presents a new business opportunity worth exploring. Providing backup for such data is another opportunity.