6 Technology Trends for 2009

Energy management, Apple, wireless HD, virtual surround sound, national installation programs and online content to thrive in 2009, says CE Pro's Julie Jacobson

6 Technology Trends for 2009
Julie Jacobson · December 26, 2008

What’s in store for technology in 2009? Nothing entirely new—mostly existing products and services that will gain traction in the new year: Apple in the home, virtual surround sound, national installation programs and online content.

The only “new” thing will be wireless HD, which manufacturers have talked about for years but never quite got around to shipping. Several wireless products will come to market in 2009, and none too soon. New construction is flat, but high definition is hot—the perfect storm for wireless entertainment.

Here are 6 top technology trends for 2009:

Energy Management

This trend seems obvious, but we have never included it in our yearly Top 5 Technologies to Watch.

The reason that this year will be a watershed for energy management is the increasing amount of legislation on the subject (and more to come with a Democratic president?).

Other contributing factors include utilities reaching capacity crises and a wide range of new retrofit-friendly HVAC-control products.

Apple in the Home

This could be the year that Apple finally makes a strong showing in the home.

Spurred by the popularity of the iPhone and a plethora of applications for the device, Apple is generating greater mindshare among consumers who have not typically embraced multi-purpose electronics.

Seems like Apple can do anything this year … and succeed.

Wireless HD

For various reasons, including technological challenges and high costs, wireless HD has failed to hit the residential marketplace, even after three years of promises.

Manufacturers and technology developers are nearly there on the development side, and we should expect products from Belkin, Gefen, Monster and others to hit the market in 2009.

Virtual Surround Sound

With new-home construction in the gutter, the prospects for surround-sound wiring is grim.

We’ve seen an explosion of virtual surround-sound systems that simulate the real thing, and 2009 should be a big year for the category.

In 2008, Mitsubishi began shipping TVs with an “Integrated Sound Projector.” Vice president of marketing Frank DeMartin says the TVs carry about a $400 premium over similar units.

He adds that the technology makes it simple to sell a subwoofer with the package.

Lest integrators think the solution cannibalizes sales of complete surround-sound set-ups, DeMartin notes, “How many people walk into retailers and don’t buy audio?”

National Installation Programs

2008 was a big year for so-called national installers. Despite what integrators think about them, Best Buy’s Geek Squad and Circuit City’s firedog have gained consumer attention.

We also saw the launch of Zip Express, a hang-and-bang installation company that does work for CompUSA and Tiger Direct, and OnForce, provider of leads for integrators willing to take relatively simple jobs.

Yet another company (that wishes to keep under the radar for now) is expecting to start installing for Costco customers nationally.

Integrators that can systematize the installation of simpler systems (such as TV, surround sound and universal remote) might take some cues from some of these mass marketers.

Online Content

IP-based video-on-demand has finally arrived, with help from such vendors as Vudu, Blockbuster, Hulu, VideoGiants and Netflix (which has partnered with several hardware providers).

The forthcoming Windows 7 will kick the trend up a notch, although that OS is not expected to ship until the end of 2009.

What are you doing to capitalize on these new opportunities?

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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