It’s been a rough few years for the consumer electronics industry. As the economy and home construction took a nosedive, people spent less than ever on “luxury” items like home theater systems. However, as CEPro editor-in-chief Jason Knott and CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) director of technology Dave Pedigo, Sr. pointed out yesterday during their keynote address at EH Publishing’s online event CEProLIVE!, the prognosis isn’t all gloom and doom. Products that offer a good “return on investment,” are gaining momentum as consumers look for ways to economize, the two agree. “A/V is still hot, but home control is catching up,” says Knott, referring to systems that allow homeowners to automate thermostats, lights and other equipment to operate more efficiently. The statistics prove it. According to a 2010 CEPro survey, custom electronics (CE) pros are spending 20 percent less on home theater equipment but 20 percent more on home control equipment. This purchasing data is a fairly good indication that consumers are starting view home control as a wise investment. In fact, when asked to anticipate the highest growth segments in 2011, CE pros listed high-end control systems, wireless installations, streaming media, and entry-level control systems as the top four.
A few emerging market categories are contributing to the shift, as well, says Pedigo. The proliferation of tablets and IP-based devices are making it easier and more affordable for consumers to have home control, for example. Other markets Pedigo expects will drive the home control market going forward are aging in place technologies, energy management, and telepresence, largely because “they are non-luxury items that can help consumers save money.” “There will be large markets, the only question is when.”