Strong Quarterly Reports from NVidia and Control4 Point to Growing Consumer Appetite for New Smart Devices

The most recent quarterly earnings reports from NVIDIA and Control4 point to an increasing retail consumer appetite for home automation and “web connected” mobile transportation systems (cars). The expansion of automated features for automobile drivers is new, but the resurgence of interest in “smart home” features likely represents more of an important turning point for home automation, than something brand new.

A few words on home automation: ISVs began working on smart features for private residences back in the early 1980s. Back then, as is the case now for a company like Control4, the essential lynchpin for any promising attempt to capture the market for HVAC systems, lighting system, or security systems amounted to channel partners. So companies like Modicon Corporation developed the ladder logic programming language. Professional trades (principally electricians) could use this language to setup Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to run the residential HVAC/Lighting/Security Systems in use back then.

But these early attempts at building smart homes never produced big numbers, meaning the kind of substantial consumer interest, required to drive matching profits for comparatively early stage ISVs like Control4.

Today is very much a different story. Home Depot is distributing the Nest programmable thermostat, and, as I mentioned above, Control4 had a great quarter.

Automobile drivers have an appetite for hands free controls. So manufacturers like Acura, Audi, BMW, etc. are building more powerful Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) into their vehicles via very smart video display technology.

If NVIDIA’s most recent quarterly earnings report can be taken as a reliable indicator of market share and market impact, then the NVIDIA Tegra chips, and the video displays built with them, appear to be leaders in this high growth market segment.

What is particularly exciting, for me, about NVIDIA’s success in this market, is the market opening they now have, and can exploit, to become the major conduit for systems built either on Google’s Android O/S, or Microsoft’s Windows 8 O/S into the smart car market. After all, the Surface tablet line from Microsoft is built on the same NVIDIA Tegra chip/display technology.

Disclaimer: I’m long NVIDIA but have no investment in Control4.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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