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Savant on Being the Only High-End Home Automation Co. on the CES 2015 Show Floor

Savant exhibited at CES for the first time in 2015, and it was the only custom-focused home control company on the show floor. How did they fare?


Savant demos Single App Home at CES 2015
Julie Jacobson · January 23, 2015

At CES 2015, Savant was the sole custom-focused home automation (with multiroom audio/video) company on the main floor.

There were others like Control4 and URC that held intimate meetings in suites, and several that had a small presence in partner booths – Clare Controls and URC with Powerhouse Alliance; Leviton (HAI) and Bitwise with the Z-Wave Alliance; and Elan with Nortek.

But Savant took a chance on the new Smart Home marketplace in the Sands this year with a sizable but simple space. Before CES, Savant’s Tim McInerney said the company would exhibit at because it wanted to expose its new Single App Home to a broad market. (Incidentally, the app won CEA’s TechHome Mark of Excellence honors for Home Technology App of the Year and Disruptor Award.)

The new software, along with relatively affordable Smart controllers, puts Savant into reach of a much wider customer base.

Even so, at about $1,000 per room, Savant would be seen as ridiculously expensive vis-à-vis the rash of new DIY systems starting at $100. Those were the systems that overwhelmed the Sands, especially in the start-up section called Eureka Park. Those also were the ones that seem to suck in the media.

So how did Savant fare? Here’s our CES post-mortem with McInerney:

It’s funny, we’ve all been in the CEDIA industry for so long that we lose sight of the fact that we’ve really touched only a small fraction of the potential consumers for our technology and most people don’t even know that a professionally integrated solution at reasonable prices is an option.

- Tim McInerney, Savant

Did Savant get the media exposure they were after?
We got some great exposure with our partners that were at the show, as our app was running the shade demo in the Pella booth nearby, and we had the IC RealTech (IC RealTime’s consumer brand) cameras and DISH Hopper running in our booth.

As you might expect, getting the press to hear anyone above the din of 3000+ exhibitors was a challenge but we got some good tech and non-tech related coverage, like this piece in Architectural Digest.

Generally, were your visitors familiar with Savant already or new to the brand?
We had a very interesting and exciting mix of visitors at the booth. Some were existing Savant customers who had an older Savant system that wanted to check out the new Savant App live and in action.

Others had heard of us and were already considering Savant for upcoming projects.

But many had not only never heard of Savant but most weren’t aware that a professionally designed, integrated and installed whole home automation system was even an option in the market!

Wouldn’t people unfamiliar with custom think Savant was crazy expensive when “I can get the same thing for $199”?
Once the benefits of a fully integrated home were explained, no one balked at the $1,000-per-room price tag, especially in relation to other home installs that they already understand.

You can put a space heater in a room for $99 or a window air conditioner for $299, but neither of them compares to the convenience, comfort and home value increase of a $10,000+ professionally installed HVAC system.

For less cost than a typical kitchen or bath remodel, they can have a professionally installed and integrated smart home system that works well and is easy to personalize and use with the Savant App.

DIY products are great and they have a place in the market the same way space heaters do, but most people we spoke with understood and agreed that the vast majority of U.S. homeowners don’t want to spend their valuable free time fiddling with devices, wires, Wi-Fi vs ZigBee vs Z-wave, trying to get devices to interconnect, multiple apps, etc.—the same way they don’t do their own electrical work, remodeling, HVAC, or plumbing. They want an expert to design and install it for a reasonable cost, and allow them to come home, hit the “Cooking Dinner” or “Relaxing” or “Party” button and enjoy their lives.

It’s funny, we’ve all been in the CEDIA industry for so long that we lose sight of the fact that we’ve really touched only a small fraction of the potential consumers for our technology and most people don’t even know that a professionally integrated solution at reasonable prices is an option.

We need to keep working to change that!

RELATED:
Savant’s New Smart Home App Epitomizes Simplicity, Elegance, User Engagement
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JULIE JACOBSON
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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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