SnapAV Acquires Autonomic
SnapAV is on a tear, acquiring four companies in one year to dominate the home-technology integration channel. Autonomic puts Snap in the high-performance multiroom audio business.
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Autonomic makes whole-house audio solutions including the Mirage brand of streaming players and multiroom amplifiers, along with apps for control and streaming media. The company is perhaps best known for its rich integration capabilities with most of the leading home automation systems. The servers integrate natively with Crestron, and Autonomic powers Savant’s multiroom audio system.
SnapAV already leads the industry in multiple product categories including loudspeakers (Episode brand), networking (Araknis), video surveillance (Luma), A/V distribution and cables (Binary), power management (WattBox), equipment racks and TV mounts (Strong), structured wiring (Wirepath) and outdoor televisions since the 2015 acquisition of category-leader SunBrite TV.
With SunBrite and now Autonomic at the higher end, it's hard to remember SnapAV as an importer of commodity products sold direct to dealer. The company still sells direct to dealers, bypassing distribution. Consumers cannot shop SnapAV products online.
Privately held SnapAV, based in Charlotte, N.C., used to be the go-to shop mostly for smaller integrators who didn’t buy direct from manufacturers. Now “we look at the CE Pro 100 list and those are our customers,” Levy says. “We look at the cover of CE Pro magazine and that’s a dealer.”
So the company is snapping up the #1 brands in every category and home-growing their own category killers, while it continues to lead the industry in logistics and customer support.
Levy says we can expect from Autonomic what we saw from the SunBrite acquisition. In less than one year, SnapAV brought out better and less expensive outdoor TVs for sale through the company’s vaunted e-commerce platform.
One year ago, when SnapAV acquired SunBrite, “they had a very expensive 1080p display,” Levy notes. “Today, we have a 4K product that’s expensive and a 4K product that’s less expensive [Veranda].”
As with SunBrite, he says, SnapAV can deliver “better pricing, better support, and better products” for Autonomic, with ample funding and speedier development than Autonomic might have achieved on its own. The audio company is staying put in Armonk, N.Y., with co-founders Michael de Nigris and Michael Toscano continuing on and staying deeply engaged.
"Perhaps the thing that we are most excited about is SnapAV's sincere commitment to this category," says CEO de Nigris. "Their deep resources and passion for creating outstanding products will enable us to extend our offerings and bring forth new and exciting products in the years to come."
Making Money in Audio
Levy says the acquisition gives SnapAV the soup-to-nuts in audio. The company now has sources and multiroom distribution to supplement existing amplifiers and speakers.
“It’s a big category,” Levy says. “Dealers spend a lot of money on it and they don’t make as much as want to. We think we can make it a better business for them.”
Autonomic was completely committed to hardwired audio distribution for a premium experience until this year when the company introduced DTS Play-Fi support at CEDIA 2016. The company also introduced a more value-priced multiroom system, the eSeries, that streams music over Ethernet – a first for the company.
When asked about Autonomic’s premium price points, Levy reminds us that a two-stream, four-zone eSeries system comes in at about $2,000 (sans speakers), about the same as other popular products on the market ... not mentioning Sonos by name.
“Our research shows that dealers are looking for a product line with better margins and something that is ‘custom-first’," Levy says. "They’re successful at selling mass-market solutions in this category and attaching other products … but they want a better, more profitable, option.”
He adds that integrators are “ready for something that gives them high-resolution audio, great integration, and a great product for either standalone or as part of a larger ecosystem … something that is different from consumer offerings.”
We can expect that Autonomic will be part of the OvrC smart-home as a service (SHaaS) platform. The two companies simply have to merge their clouds. Users will then be able to remotely monitor and manage their audio products and services.
Currently, Autonomic products are sold through a network of independent reps and rep-distributors, but those channels will be phased out.
SnapAV also just acquired Visualint, a provider of surveillance products with enhanced video analytics.
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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 email@example.com
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