AWE Europe interview: Rise of the Smart Home Guys

posted on Tuesday, 1st April 2014 by Steve May

AWE Europe 

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CI trade distributor AWE Europe has thrown open the doors to its new Epsom headquarters and urged the install industry to differentiate itself from the growing tide of home automation apps and low cost control solutions. "The consumer can't really trust companies which are nothing to do with home automation or Smart homes," declared MD Stuart Tickle. "When people get over the excitement of controlling their TV with an app they go back to a hard-buttoned remote, because it's easier." If a company in California updates the OS of a mobile device and it breaks their home entertainment and control systems, who do they talk to? he asked. "We know that apps will not kill control systems. This building shows why that is…"

The new AWE facility at Alexander House offers an apartment showhome (pictured above, featuring Samsung 4K screen and KEF multichannel sound system), along with product showroom, training facilities and warehousing. Also in development is a home cinema demo room. The bespoke building is a bold move from the company, which candidly admits it was hurt both by Pioneer's withdrawal from the plasma screen market ("We lost 25 per cent of our business when Kuro went away," admits Tickle) and then Philips decision to shutter its Pronto control business ("That was another 25 per cent that vanished overnight"). The new building features Philips Dynalite lighting systems and is run on a URC control technology backbone. ("We learnt a lot during the build," says AWE director Paul Mott). The clear trend now is for industry growth, says Tickle.

Exterior

AWE Glass

According to industry research conducted by CEDIA, there are currently around 1,250 active installers in the UK. "We've actually got around 3,000 installers on our books," reveals Tickle. "The big question remains though: what exactly is our industry? What is a Smart home? Is it a room with a TV that can be controlled by an app or is it a fully integrated home?"

AWE believes business confidence is returning to the integrator industry. CEDIA research indicates that the average turnover is now a million pounds per CI company, but the distributor anticipates the biggest growth will come at the smaller end of the market. "There's a lot of one and two man companies doing a lot less than that, yet making a very good living. I think we're going to get an explosion of this type of installer," predicts Tickle. "I think we're going to see the rise of the Smart Home Guys, to rival plumbers and electricians… loads of man and vans. In the US they (disparagingly) call them Trunk Slammers. Our industry is going to grow, and it's going to go mainstream. The challenge is to evolve with it. What we can demonstrate here in this building is where our industry needs to be..."

Tickle also has a clear message to traditional electronics dealers: "You're not going to win if all you do is a sell a box with a number on it. You have to add value."

Stuart

Tickle (pictured above) went on to reveal that according to recent research, the average project price in the UK is £40,000, defined not just by the CEDIA market but a wider base of people questioned. "However in the US you can get a $299 Revolv Smart Hub that combines all your apps, so what's that going to do for our industry? Ultimately I think it's going to be good for it."

It all boils down to communication and education, he concludes. "Currently around 70 per cent of custom install projects use a third party control system - like URC, Crestron, AMX, Control4. What we need to do as an industry is explain what differentiates our offerings."

Denon Showroom

The AWE Europe trade-only Expo is open April 1-2. For more on AWE's product portfolio and services, visit our partner page here.

Also read:
AWE Europe partners with HD Connectivity for Modular

AWE extends Samsung UHD range with additional screens
AWE Europe streamlines corporate identity

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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Posted by Darren Shear on 1st April 2014, 11:48 PM
Top company visited and great setup if you got time book it in

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