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Custom Integration Defining the Digital Home

Digital home product enhancements and increasing marketing investments have resulted in several key custom integration brands moving up the list of preferred installing dealer products, according to new market study.

This study, the first joint study from Parks Associates and EH Publishing, identifies Control4 in whole-house automation and lighting control, JVC in microdisplay rear-projection TVs, and both JBL and Polk for in-wall/ceiling speakers as having significantly improved their positions in this channel.

"This research documents the fact that certain brands are well-entrenched as the market leaders in their specialty categories," said Daryl Delano, EH Publishing's research director. "Members of the 'Hall of Fame' that consistently measure high rankings for brand familiarity and use include Denon for receivers and amplifiers, Russound for multiroom audio distribution, Monster for A/V wire and cables, Lutron for lighting control, and Crestron for whole-house automation."

Parks Associates and EH Publishing conducted the survey over a three-week period during May 2007 and covered 21 separate product categories actively installed by home systems integrators. A total of 987 responses were divided into three groups: audio, video, and control/infrastructure. The survey was designed and administered to be comparable to past surveys of the channel.

"This channel is growing 15 to 20 percent annually," said Bill Ablondi, Parks Associates' director of home systems research. "Central to its growth is the emergence of new products -- including some based on new technologies -- that are affordable for the mass affluent market and not just the wealthy elite. We will be monitoring channel acceptance of these new products and the companies offering them to determine which are gaining traction, which are not, and why."

The study also confirmed that customer support and ease of integration outweigh price as primary purchase considerations. The number of survey respondents rating price as a very important consideration is around 20 percent. In contrast, 85 percent of dealers surveyed indicate support from the manufacturer and 75 percent note the product's ability to integrate with other parts of a control or A/V system as important factors.

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