The notion of wireless whole-house audio was not exactly embraced by either home builders or their subcontracted systems integrators early on. To someone for whom wire is a fundamental item on any P.O., anything that did away with cabling was a profit-taker, not a profit-maker.
But it is an increasingly wireless world, and builders and integrators are beginning to discover that presented properly, wireless whole-house audio has profits of its own to be made.
How good the market has become for wireless whole-house audio is reflected in the increased competition in the sector. In addition to Sonos, Logotech, and NuVo, Cisco’s Linksys brand entered the high-end market earlier this year. However, wireless is a broad playing field, and the iPhone is eating into the sales of the profitable $400 to $500 remote controls on the market. On the other hand, wireless audio systems makers have also found that iPhones introduce new buyers to the whole-house audio concept.
The builder channel prompted a recent design addition for Logitech’s Squeezebox and Transporter networked whole-house music system. Later this year the company will introduce in-wall–mounting kits for its speakers and controllers intended for installation by low-voltage specialists. “That came about in large part from feedback from builders,” says Logitech product marketing director Sam Feng.
Noting the company is developing a builder sales channel—it has shown at CEDIA for four years and may attend the International Builders’ Show in 2010—Feng says that the Transporter system can be installed either as a wired or wireless system and can work in a hybrid of both modes. “The size of houses is changing and while wireless systems are a good choice up to a certain size, after that some homes may need systems that run on structured wiring,” he explains. “That’s a good way for builders to present it to buyers, too.”