Integrator on Sonos: We Push Customers to Manufacturers that Support CEDIA Channel
Home-technology integrator writes, "It is now time for our industry to demand that manufacturers who want our support ... support us in return."
We received many responses to our two stories on Sonos's new API for home automation integration: New Sonos API Disrupts Home Automation Integration and Sonos Doesn’t Hate Home-Automation Channel.
One response was from the new Sonos CEO himself, Patrick Spence:
Most responses were from integrators, many of which acknowledged the virtues of Sonos, but lamented the company's treatment of the custom-installation channel, as represented by the trade organization CEDIA.
In an email to CE Pro, Brian Esarove of A.I. Home Automation in Stockbridge, Georgia, articulated the sentiment of many in the home-technology community. With his permission, we have reproduced the letter below (edited for grammar and clarity). - Julie Jacobson, editor
AS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN IN THE CEDIA END of consumer electronics even before CEDIA existed I have seen and committed my fair share of mistakes, like specifying and selling the latest and greatest products that either never shipped, shipped well after the job was completed, or never lived up to the manufactuers' promises.
As a dealer, we now live in an environment that requires most if not all products we sell to be controllable via a two-way interface like a smart phone. To accomplish this task a "driver" or "module" must be written based on the manufacturer's API. As your article stated, the Sonos driver for all smart-home products has been unsupported in the past, with "unsupported" being the key theme in this whole saga.
As a dealer, I make the decision on what products to specify, sell, install and program. While from time to time we have clients ask for specific products by name, it is our responsibility to guide them to a product that will meet their needs and expectations.
I place all manufactures that don’t support our side of the distribution chain (CEDIA) in the “unsupported” category.
A.I. Home Automation
There are multiple choices in music streaming, many of which support integration, with some going well beyond. Those are the solutions we choose to embrace.
Two years ago, on Super Bowl Sunday, I received a call from the software programmer from one such company. I had been emailing back and forth with him for a few days to try and resolve some issues that the API had for the specific processor we use. I had sent an email to him (I thought) on the previous Friday with some issues I had found in the driver, but did not hear back from him that day. That Sunday I logged into my computer, only to find my email to him sitting in the outbox, which explained why there was no response. I resent the email and went about the rest of my day, as it was Sunday after all.
An hour later I get a call on my cell and answered reluctantly as I was sure it was one of my clients realizing the bulb that had burned out in their projector a month ago was not going to work for the big Super Bowl party.
Thankfully it was not. It was the programmer from the music-streaming company wanting to know if I had time to go over the issues I was having. After several hours of screen-sharing and programs being sent back and forth, the problems were resolved just in time for both of us to head out to our respective Super Bowl parties.
This company and its products fall into the "supported" category.
I won’t mention the company, as this is not meant to serve as an endorsement for any particular vendor. It's just a personal story that explains why we sell one and only one brand of music streaming devices.
People treat you the way you allow them to treat you, and companies are no different. Many dealers specify DIY-type products on their own merits, or because their clients request them by name.
So why would those manufacturers invest the time and money to write and support drivers for multiple control platforms, when dealers will buy their products anyway?
I am a certified driver developer for one of the more popular platforms, but I no longer write drivers. Why should I? Why should I spend my time and resources if I have a choice between one product that is arleady supported by the subsystem manufacturer and one that is not?
Five years ago, the landscape was different, and if a dealer wanted two-way control of a product we had to write the driver in many cases.
That was five years ago. It is now time for our industry to demand that manufacturers who want our support ... support us in return. If we don’t, their behavior will not change. If their behavior does not change, we as a group need to put those companies in the “unupported” category, and move our business to companies that care about the channel.
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