Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home audio and Video Services in Matthews, NC.  TV installation, Surround Sound, Home Entertainment Systems
Can RadioShack & Other Retailers Sell Home Automation?

Home control is still a “push” sell and CE pros are best positioned to push it into the mainstream

When I suggested in my January Industry Insider that home automation has never succeeded at retail, I received a harshly worded response from 35-year industry veteran Dave Rye.

The senior VP of X10 wrote, “Quite frankly Julie you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

He went on to recount the impressive history of X10 – a pioneer in powerline-based control – and concludes, “X10 doesn’t just ‘try’ sell to the masses, we do it, and do it very successfully.”

I concede that X10 does a wonderful job of selling gadgets and covert cameras, but not home automation to the masses. I don’t mean masses of gadget freaks, but masses of ordinary people. And by home automation, I mean integrated lighting and thermostats and maybe a macro or two.

Rye rattles off a litany of X10 private-labeled solutions for the likes of IBM, RCA, RadioShack and Stanley — all of which were very capable solutions back then, but none of which succeeded. True, as he says, they were all “sold at retail, to the masses.”

Sold, perhaps, but not purchased.

We see the same phenomenon today, despite boasts from numerous home-control vendors that their products have been picked up by RadioShack, Lowes, Best Buy and other mass marketers. Picked up by retailers, but are they being picked up by consumers?

On a recent trip to my local Shack — the corner store formerly known as RadioShack — I found a very brisk cell phone kiosk. But not a single person gazed at the modest array of X10-like gadgets.

Furthermore, dust had settled on the two Schlage Link boxes in the store. Although the boxes — containing a Z-Wave-enabled door lock, wireless Internet gateway, and Z-Wave lamp module — sat on prime shelves, they attracted little interest from passersby.

I asked the store associate (a long-time employee): Have you sold many of the Schlages?

He looked at me confused.

When I pointed to the boxes, he said, “Oh those. No, people are turned off by the price. They’re like $300.”

And then I asked how customers felt about the $12.99 monthly service fee for remote access.

Again, that confused look: “What?!”

And that’s probably the same dialog I would have with the folks at Lowe’s, Best Buy or other popular stores that sell home automation.

RadioShack stock is up about 80% over the past year, and the company enjoyed a 26-percent increase in earnings in the fourth quarter. But it was all about cell phones. Phones are easy to sell. Consumers know what they are. RadioShack employees know what they are. Who has the bandwidth to learn about and sell home automation?

Not to pick on Schlage. The same can be said of Xanboo, iControl and countless other home-control vendors that have practically abandoned the retail channel. Furthermore, there has not been a single successful home-control initiative involving utilities, telcos, cable and other service providers, despite numerous efforts.

Home automation still remains a very assisted sale. Except for the geeks, the real mass market doesn’t understand the stuff, and doesn’t want to install it.

So there remains a tremendous opportunity for integrators, even if you’re installing DIY-friendly products like Schlage.

By Julie Jacobson


Custom Installation Services, LLC – Charlotte and Asheville NC’s Source For Home Automation Products!

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Coolest Products and Tech of the Decade



We take a look back at some influential A/V of the past decade.

Back in 2000, few people had high-definition televisions, DVD popularity began phasing out VHS, speedy broadband Internet wasn’t mainstream, and people had just started stocking up on MP3s (the majority illegally obtained).

Companies like TiVo and Netflix that would dramatically change people’s viewing habits were barely out of infancy.

Now we can watch just about anything we want, whenever we want, and almost wherever we want — on our TVs, computers, cell phones. And super-high quality TVs don’t cost a fortune either … far from it, even for sizes equivalent to the super-space-hogging rear-projection sets popularized in the 90s.

To go with higher-quality TVs we also have better looking video content, as Blu-ray (and HD DVD briefly) brought HD to disc form. Those Blu-ray players can even do much more than play Blu-ray discs as the decade comes to a close now too.

We also have higher-quality audio to complete the full home theater experience. Higher resolution of uncompressed soundtracks on disc, and expanded audio options that have come about with the rise of iPod and other mobile/computer-based listening.

So we’re taking a look back at some of our favorites from the decade. We’re not getting into the automation category (though you can use your iPhone to control some of that too), but there’s been plenty else to change the landscape of A/V and home theater.

Click here for the Coolest Products and Tech of the Decade.

by EH Staff


Custom Installation Services, LLC – Home Theater, Audio and Video services in North Carolina and South Carolina

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Custom Installation Services, LLC | P.O. Box 132 Matthews, NC 28106 | 704-400-8701 | dmiller@cis-nc.com
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