Lew Brown, Executive Vice President of Marketing, talks about the role Zensys plays in the wireless and the energy conservation markets, how they do what they do and why the future is bright for this semiconductor company.
CEDN: Share with our readers a little about your company. What’s your main line of business?
LB: Zensys is a leading semiconductor company developing wireless networking technology for control and status reading applications. Our Z-Wave technology is a proven, affordable and interoperable wireless mesh networking technology designed for residential control systems that is available in more than 170 wireless home control products today. Zensys offers a family of low-cost, low-power integrated MCU/Transceiver chips embedded with Z-Wave, as well as a suite of development tools and services making it easy for companies to develop wireless products for residential and light commercial applications. Zensys is a privately held and founding principal member of the Z-Wave Alliance.
CEDN: What makes your company unique?
LB: Zensys has been the only technology in the home control [HC] sector that has really worked at executing interoperability between major brands and major classes of devices. We adhere to a strict branding and certification program and each Z-Wave-certified product has to pass a stringent conformance test to assure that it meets the Z-Wave standard for operation and is interoperable with other Z-Wave-certified devices and controls. Only those products, services and applications that pass this certification procedure are allowed to carry the Z-Wave logo and advertise themselves as Z-Wave-certified. As such, every Z-Wave-certified product is guaranteed to work with all other Z-Wave-certified products, regardless of the manufacturer.
CEDN: What was the most significant event or series of events affecting your company in the past year?
LB: Over the past year, Z-Wave has been firmly established as the winning technology in the home control marketplace. Zensys and Z-Wave have realized significant growth, as evidenced by the following:
- Added two new powerhouses as principal members of the Z-Wave Alliance: Ingersoll Rand and FAKRO.
Zensys’ new product certifications have ramped up to between 30 and 50 per quarter.
- The fourth generation Z-Wave chip—which offers IR replacement along with home control—is being well received in the CE markets.
- Panasonic made a strategic investment in Zensys in March 2008, adding a global leader in consumer electronics to an impressive list of investors that includes Intel Capital, Cisco, Bessemer Venture Partners, Palamon Capital Partners and Sunstone Capital.
- In April 2008, Zensys sponsored the first annual European Home Control Summit in Copenhagen and Frankfurt, speaking to the global growth of Z-Wave.
- May 2008 marked the second anniversary of the Z-Wave Alliance’s advanced energy savings thermostat device class.
- Z-Wave made significant inroads into home energy management by reinforcing that true home energy conservation doesn’t stop at the meter, but rather requires the control of devices within the home.
- In response to unprecedented market growth, two new third-party Z-Wave Certification Test Partners were contracted to provide Z-Wave certification to products demonstrating Z-Wave compliance and interoperability: BuLogics, a longstanding member of the Z-Wave Alliance with extensive experience in this standard and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab [UNH-IOL].
- In May, Z-Wave started making inroads into the service provider space with the launch by a consortium of Z-Wave Alliance members of a benchmark solution set for MSOs designed to jumpstart SMA [Security-Monitoring-Automation] service rollouts.
CEDN: How would you describe your current marketing strategy?
LB: Our core value and unique selling proposition continues to be focused on building the Z-Wave brand and emphasizing interoperability amongst best-of-class brands in all of the major HC product categories. To that end, we recognize that the end consumer is resonating with end-solutions, not products. We are working through the Z-Wave Alliance to bring our vendor partners together to create compelling, real world solutions—energy conservation, security and remote home management. Together, we are working with the integrator, retail, service provider and security channels to deliver these compelling packages to their consumers.
CEDN: Are there specific markets you are focusing on over the coming year?
LB: The energy conservation market is becoming very important to everyone in virtually all regions and channels. Products that can facilitate the management of energy usage for the end-consumer as well as the energy providers are in great demand. Our unique position in this market is Z-Wave’s ability to serve as a bridge between utilities’ smart meters and devices inside the home. We firmly believe that true home energy conservation doesn’t stop at the meter, but rather requires the control of devices within the home. Z-Wave already dominates home lighting control with more than 15 brands utilizing our technology worldwide—in addition to many other home control segments such as access/security, HVAC and remote home monitoring—so we have a leg up on any competition looking to enter the home.
Home healthcare is another key market for us where we expect to see some significant developments over the coming year.
CEDN: Are you introducing any new products?
LB: Zensys’ fourth generation Z-Wave chip and protocol stack will begin shipping in production quantities at the beginning of 2009. We continue to drive ease of user and integrator experience, added features and lower cost. We have, among a number of other things, increased memory and throughput, built IR coding and learning on board—all on a smaller chip. We are very excited about this product launch as it represents our continued path towards innovation and high value—qualities for which we have become highly regarded.