Age of the "iBulb"
Laura Van Zeyl

If there was any lingering doubt about how much the lighting industry now has in common with consumer electronics, two recent announcements will certainly put that to rest. Philips Lighting introduced a web-enabled LED home lighting system called hue, sold in a starter kit that includes three LED replacement bulbs, a bridge that connects to existing wireless routers and a downloadable app. As if that weren’t enough to make it a gadget guru’s dream, it also made its Oct. 30 debut in Apple stores. Hot on the heels of that news, Cree also announced that its new Insignia bulb would be sold exclusively at Best Buy.

In the case of the hue system, showrooms will eventually get a piece of the action. In fact, Philips Consumer Luminaires will have it on display at the January Dallas Market. But do we now need to worry about this well-funded channel as an emerging competitor? I mean, our expertise gave us the upper hand against home centers when it came to LED lighting. Consumers were less comfortable investing in that price point without first talking to a specialist. But when the store has on-staff “Geniuses,” as Apple does, that trepidation could be eliminated. Will lighting retailers lose out on LED bulb sales as a result?

One positive that stands to benefit all sellers of this new technology is making LED lighting more mainstream. Apple is legendary for creating categories of “must-have” products that consumers didn’t know they needed … until they did. Putting an LED bulb alongside an iPad Mini certainly ups its “cool” factor. Perhaps more consumers will try LED, become comfortable with its attributes and more accepting of other products incorporating LED in other applications.

It’s certainly an opportunity for showrooms to piggyback on any marketing surrounding these launches. These familiar venues are currently only offering one option, while your store may have dozens of others from a range of reliable brands. “Come in today and let our experienced staff help you find the LED solution that’s right for you.” Your Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC®) can take on their Genius any day of the week!

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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