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When six U.S. luxury home automation players recently opted to join forces and form a single company: VIA International. The consolidation was carried out as a partnership, not a merger or acquisition. An unusual approach, but one that nevertheless has a number of drivers that speak to the development and fragmentation of the home automation market, as well as indications of where the market is heading.

The six companies that have come together to form the new VIA International have each grown to serve its primary local market.The deal brought together Engineered Environments, covering San Francisco, Hawaii, and Houston; DSI Entertainment Systems, covering southern California; S3 Aurant of Park City, Utah, and its environs; Cyber Sound & Security, covering Phoenix; Paragon Technology Group, covering Denver; and Studio AV, which covers parts of Wyoming and Montana. All these companies have been privately owned, profitable, and more than 15 years in the business.

 

Much of the impetus behind forming the new company would be common across most acquisitions and mergers. Together, these independent players can pool their resources to achieve operational savings through centralized purchasing/warehousing, centralized management, and more efficient employee utilization, as well as wield greater purchasing power across a standardized set of vendors and products. The company says that, with the greater installed base to support across the previously separate customers, it will be able to defray the cost of offering 24-7 support, something that not all the constituents could provide before.

VIA International is firmly rooted within the luxury segment of bellwether U.S. home automation market, and this deal does nothing to change that focus. The luxury market is a fraction of the market by installations, but one that dominates within the share of total home automation revenues.

But unique as the luxury market is, as more and more large-scale players from traditionally separate markets such as security, telecoms, retail, and utility begin to offer some smaller-scale home automation services for low monthly subscription fees, the same positive effects of scale that VIA has sought will be brought to bear in other market segments.

 

Service management will increasingly be a factor, and delivering service will increasingly drive installers and service providers to look to scale to provide economies and efficiencies. VIA has branded itself a as a “digital concierge;” it is an approach that sets service above all else. The other market segments, regardless of their product price points, will increasingly follow suit as home automation transactions from devices and installations to management services and subscriptions.

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