More so than ever, CES 2007 was a celebration of convergence, showcasing everything from TVs to audio/video gear to phones to home control systems that combined new technologies with the ease-of-use and convenience consumers expect of traditional electronics. While manufacturers and vendors trumpeted the latest and greatest features and functions of their new offerings, many also established plans to deepen their dealer programs by rolling out more training and demo units to help smaller dealers understand and sell more sophisticated products. In turn, dealers reacted to the products with a mix of outright enthusiasm and guarded optimism. What follows, is the Dealerscope wrap-up
As part of their original business plans to deliver home control solutions to the masses, manufacturers Control4 and Exceptional Innovation this year will be looking to increase their partnerships with strong regional and independent retailers. When they launched several years ago, the companies targeted custom installers with an established clientele to integrate the control solutions into a networked home environment. But as customer awareness, product reliability and competition increases, companies like Control4 and Exceptional Innovation are seeking more ways to reach the public. “The solutions will become increasingly in reach for everyone,” said Glen Mella, president and chief operating officer for Control4. “Our tagline
Lawrence Richenstein, Unwired Technology’s founder and former president and CEO, has moved up to become chairman of the board. Richenstein will advise the management team, pursue licensing avenues for the company’s WhiteFire digital wireless format and support the development of Unwired’s emerging European business. Richenstein will also continue his involvement with CEA. This year he became vice chairman of the association’s Mobile Electronics Division and will remain a member of its Board of Industry Leaders. Unwired appointed Joseph Damato to replace Richenstein as president and CEO. Damato has 18 years of product development, marketing and business management experience in consumer electronics. He had
Got a soft spot for Godiva chocolates? Do some business with some of John Hightower’s salespeople and you’re likely to find a big basket of caramels, truffles, pralines and ganaches on your doorstep. “We do lots and lots of follow up with our customers,” says Hightower, the manager of Tweeter’s newest “concept store” in Wilmington, Delaware. “We have to make it a pleasure. We put the names of our salespeople and our intallers on the gift basket card.” Hightower’s store pulls in about 8-9 million dollars in sales each year, but he’s hoping that a new showfloor design and sales strategy will up
Control4 continues its march into national retail, announcing that Magnolia Audio Video will now carry the company’s complete line of home control products. This is part and parcel of strategy—earlier in the year Control4 began offering products at Tweeter. “We’ve been working with them for at least a year and have been in test markets,” said Will West, CEO of Control4, of the Best Buy owned retail store. He added that Magnolia’s design and installation services were good enough that his company feels confident in offering its full line at Magnolia’s stores. Magnolia will display Control4 products on the floor and demonstrate home
Mention Internet Protocol (IP) to plenty of custom audio and video installers and you’ll likely solicit a slew of reactions, some of which may not be very kind. While IT professionals have long been hip to digital comeuppance, plenty of CE dealers aren’t necessarily ready to toss aside their speaker wire for what they see as nothing more than a glorified computer network. Whether one likes it or not, this difference of opinion nevertheless signals an important change in the industry compared to just a few short years ago, when the idea of IP-based home entertainment was considered far more theoretical than practical.