The notion of services rolled in with technology products was introduced by bundled services such as Verizon’s FiOS. With them, builders could offer fiber connectivity to home buyers, as well as related services. But many of the companies that supply home entertainment and automation products that builders use to differentiate their homes are partnering with service providers now, as well, creating more robust offerings for builders.
For instance, Panasonic and LG have both announced the addition of popular Internet phone call service Skype to their high-end connected TV service product lines. A year earlier, LG began offering TV systems with built-in support for video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Vudu, Picasa, and AccuWeather. Samsung has announced its own apps store for its Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, opening its products to software developers a la Apple. That’s on top of a “global strategic partnership” with DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor to make and promote more 3D content. Crestron’s ADMS Intermedia Delivery System hosts many content providers natively via relationships with Amazon Video OnDemand, Vimeo, Joost, Hulu, MetaCafe, YouTube, and Netflix. Whole-house audio system makers are also employing the strategy, such as Sonos’ inclusion of a subscription to Rhapsody’s music streaming service.
“The content makes the network meaningful,” says Tom Cullen, vice president of market development for Sonos, who says he’s seen condo developments in Philadelphia and Chicago using the product/service combination as a sales marketing tool. “‘Comes with music’—that could make all the difference to the right buyer in a challenging market.”