InfoComm Comes (or Goes) Home

AVIXA is going out of its way to say that its new Integrated Life @ InfoComm isn’t competitive to the industry’s defacto HomeAV show, CEDIA. But, I call bulls*t.

First, look at this.

That’s basically the what’s new at InfoComm page — letting everyone know what all the new things AVIXA added to the industry’s top ProAV show. And, note that under the header Integrated Life @ InfoComm, the word “home” appears along with the details of the expanded show.

In fact it reads, “We’re expanding the show to include more technologies for smart buildings, homes and spaces where audio, video, control systems and content intersect.”

That says home. They mean home.

First, the backstory.

CEDIA, the association, sold CEDIA, the show, to Emerald Expositions as first reported last January here. In case you don’t know, CEDIA, the show, has historically been the world’s preeminent high-end residential show — while its giant cousin, CES, garners all the attention as the world’s best and biggest consumer electronics or tech show — it’s where all the new gaming systems are launched, where the new TV tech is launched and where nearly everything electronic you use in your home is debuted.

CEDIA, on the other hand, is focused on higher-end residential systems like whole-home audio, smart homes, home theaters and high-quality AV systems.

But, to be perfectly frank, CEDIA, the show, in recent years has lost its compass, in addition to losing Crestron as an exhibitor. In my view, the show has slowly become a hybrid between companies that get lost at CES each year — small DIY app companies and companies trying to copy SONOS — and a high-end cinema theater show. (Note that I didn’t say “theater.” The use of “cinema” is intentional as it’s supposed to delineate between a CEDIA-based projector products and a CES-based projector products. But, even the “cinema” projector companies are at CES now.)

If you find this all confusing, therein lies the problem. It is confusing. And, no one at CEDIA, the show, seems to know what they are, what they want to be or who the right audience is. For years, it was THE home theater and home automation show — it was THE show you’d go to if you did high-end home integration. But, as Apple, Amazon, Google and now Netflix have decimated the traditional home theater profit-centers, CEDIA has straddled the high-end $1,800 tuner market exhibiting next to a start-up the $1.99 home control app company.

CEDIA is lost.

Enter InfoComm (the show). AVIXA pitched this Integrated Life @ InfoComm campaign by casually dropping into a podcast I had with AVIXA CEO Dave Labuskes the last day of InfoComm last summer. It was intentional. Barely anyone noticed, but I asked him about it off-air afterwards. Dave went out of his way to tell me that it wasn’t going to be a mini-CEDIA at InfoComm in future years, but let’s be honest: Integrated Life @ InfoComm is a mini-CEDIA. And, more power to them.

Now, go here.

Left side. See it?

Yep, InfoComm is going to compete with CEDIA, the show. No doubt about it. And, they’ll be successful.

And what does CEDIA, the association, think? Well, this is where things get interesting. The association, technically, doesn’t have any ownership of the show anymore — remember, Emerald Expositions does. And, interestingly enough — in case you didn’t know this — CEDIA and AVIXA (the association that owns the InfoComm show) co-own the ISE show in Amsterdam together. So, they already partner on a show — a big-ass AV show in Europe. Oh, and that show has both a HomeAV and a ProAV side. Hmm.

So, the USA is getting ready to see InfoComm become the ISE of America. InfoComm will slowly add more and more home AV technology to their programs, their expositions and their special events and we’ll all have to wait to see what becomes of CEDIA, the show.

The only real question is how long AVIXA will continue to deny they are competing with CEDIA?