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Topic:
EI going straight to builders with Lifeware
This thread has 350 replies. Displaying posts 31 through 45.
Post 31 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 16:27
Theaterworks
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On February 17, 2007 at 16:19, weird_ideas said...
Hopefully Steve can clarify, but I beleive I read that
this was going to be outsourced and handled initially
by EI until numbers were high enough for BB to handle
them. Wither way I can see this being outsourced to a
third party.

That's kind of what I thought. The corporate climate at big box stores would never allow decent support of the caliber needed to keep a highly technical product like this off the return counter at the store entrance. The trick, I think, is to not succumb to the temptation to oversell this in the store, so people don't carry it home only to find that the product doesn't spring from its box, stick to the walls and just work without their lifting finger. One call to the store where they don't get the answer they want and consumers will be tossing it back in the box saying "it's too hard".

"Hopefully Steve can clarify..."? Hopefully Steve will be able to shoulder the fusillade of invective coming his way, I'm certain; shades of that guy from C4, Jeff from (then) Magnolia, etc. This forum tends to beat up on vendors that people don't like.
Carpe diem!
Post 32 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 17:18
juliejacobson
CE Pro Magazine
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On February 17, 2007 at 15:15, Theaterworks said...
Does anyone know if BB will have a dedicated staff to
program and troubleshoot these EI systems?

From my understanding there will be a few BB troubleshooters, but much of the heavy lifting will be done by EI via remote access. EI has a pretty substantial backend for remote service and support, and of course can dispatch authorized dealers when necessary. Dealers share in the rr for this service. The BB service is fairly bare-bones. If customers want more than the basics, other local dealers will be invited to take over.
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Post 33 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 17:35
QQQ
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On February 17, 2007 at 17:18, juliejacobson said...
The BB service is fairly bare-bones. If customers
want more than the basics, other local dealers will be
invited to take over.

Sounds like strategy for thriving success ;-). I'm sure that the CI's who have the skill to properly support control systems will be falling over themselves wanting to offer support to people who bought their come automation system from Best Buy ;-).

I envision the phone call going something like this:

EI (or local Best Buy yocal): "Hello QQQ, we've got a great lead for you, this customer purchased a Lifeware system from Best Buy and now needs to have it supported and customized". (of course the part the EI or Best Buy yocal won't mention it that the "lead" will have a completely unrealistic expectation re: what that should/might cost).

QQQ: "silence, than UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER for about 60 seconds, tries to calm one self down, cannot help ones self and more UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER ensues before hanging up the phone. Promptly calls other employees over to share the story with them and share a company wide bonding UPROARIOUS LAUGH before returning back to work.
Post 34 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 19:36
Audible Solutions
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While we will all join in QQQ's laughter I'm not certain his prediction of CI firms not jumping on the band wagon will be born out. I get a call before Thanksgiving. Some installer working for a firm talked some client into upgrading to HD cable. There are all sorts of issues getting the HD cable boxes to sync on the 5 year old Runco crap so happily sold by many CI firms and audiophile salons because though it is crap it is profitable crap. Can I not go up and check it out for them as a favor. I know the original programmer. We have a relationship and the client promises to pay him for his work so he sends me his program. 5 trips to his home and 65 hours later, the client still has not sent a check to the original programmer, I solve all of his manufactured problems and the 2 or 3 his legitimate complaints. The picture now syncs but he is still not happy. He screwed the original firm out of 75K. According to him they did not do a good job. He did not pay the original programmer though he promised to do so. Since I cannot solve the problem of the way the networks broadcast HD during the day and cable systems transmit those broadcasts I'm incompetent and I cannot do a good job. He will also not pay that firm anything or it will be .20 on the dollar for my time fixing all of his real and imagined problems. Right behind me there will be an other CI firm falling over itself to service that system. It's in a high rent area, with a client with a vast bankroll. That company will have their sense blinded by dollar signs flashing as they fantasize about future sales and lucrative upgrade paths. He's perfect for Kaleidescape. Just wait till Nevius comes out. Those scalers need upgrading and the horrid Krell pre/pro controlling the theater might soon be a Lexicon MC-12.

There will be many firms happy to take on this business and if they have the proper business plan they will make money at it. Just because small firms did not make money installing for D* doesn't mean the large ones didn't. What is the real difference between QQQ's fictitious dealer and the dealer who asked me to service his prospective client? Some firm will always be there to service these clients and business deals.

Alan
"This is a Christian Country,Charlie,founded on Christian values...when you can't put a nativiy scene in front fire house at Christmas time in Nacogdoches Township, something's gone terribly wrong"
Post 35 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 20:13
QQQ
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On February 17, 2007 at 19:36, Audible Solutions said...
There will be many firms happy to take on this business
and if they have the proper business plan they will make
money at it. Just because small firms did not make money
installing for D* doesn't mean the large ones didn't.
What is the real difference between QQQ's fictitious
dealer and the dealer who asked me to service his prospective
client? Some firm will always be there to service these
clients and business deals.

I agree somewhat and my post should not be taken *100%* literally. Nevertheless, I don't think the market will smile on the Best Buy/Lifeware partnership.
Post 36 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 21:43
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QQQ-Did you hear about all the midnight openings retall stores had for Vista...and like 5 people showed up to them?

SC-Although I am unaware of the opening night events, I do know that hundreds of thousand of vista machines were sold on opening day.

Tvisser-think we should look at market trends and market share after Apple TV is released and see what it does well and where it fails.

SC-Agreed, our approach is not only to be hardware agnostic, but if and when other platforms of open standards media management become mainstream, we will likely port lifeware on to those platforms, in the ultimate world we would have apple, Microsoft, and linux machines that all operated through a standards based interface. Right now MCE is the only one that encompasses everything from pics, movies, live tv, music, and other video formats.

AHEM-Steve, you mentioned that you were a MCE skeptic, but tried out an EI product, became a believer, and 14 months ago, joined the company. Since MCE hasn't been out all that long, why did you become so convinced, over a short period of time, that it was all that and more?

SC-First off letís not make this personal, we all love and believe in the same industry. Why else would be doing blogs on the weekend. MCE has been out for nearly five years. I personally used the system for six months before relocating to Ohio from Colorado. Having not been able to program AMX and other systems, I was extremely excited that I was finally able to automate my own home with my own skillset, no expensive out sourced programmer. I had a very complex AMX system and frankly my wife steered away from it and would rather walk to the wall to turn the lights on than use the ďunreliable a__ touch panel we hadĒ Upon installing lifeware and having the MCEís running in our home, it was the first time that my wife actually seen value in what I call my career. The system was easy to use, did everything she wanted, and didnít have a lot of the problems that had previously caused her to dismiss it. She now controls the lights, security, hvac, audio, and cameras on a daily basis. I travel 175 nights a year and it nice for me to call in after a dinner on the road and not get a grumpy voice, of this isnít working. I know Microsoft has a bad wrap and yes if you donít buy a good PC, there can be problems, this is true with amps, speakers, and just about everything else that is electronic. TO me the facts are with proper educating and training, it works, it works well, and your customers will appreciate and enjoy their system more than anything else that I have ever personally experienced.

AHEM-Since EI and Control4 are both Best Buy lines, Do you see the two being able to coexist over the long haul?

SC-One Control 4 is no longer at BBY, donít know the story, and frankly donít care. EIís approach is to be hardware agnostic versus C4 has tried to build the best lighting, hvac, audio and kept it all proprietary, all your eggs are in the C4 basket. EI has chosen to embrace every brand of lighting, audio, security, hvac, and more. There are a lot of good products in the industry, obviously different strokes for different folks or what is needed on a job, but we donít want to reinvent the wheel. Where we come in, is we help those companies bridge their communications on to IP using and open standards, WSD, web services for devices, this can run on linux, Microsoft, thread x, and more. It is basically like usb type discovery of devices, but over a network. Then once the devices can communicate in an open standard, we just create a software app that currently is on the Microsoft platform that allows the user to have a great integrated experience that make those product more than products, but an integrated solution. In our go to market, we do sell a version of lifeware to BBY, like windows XP home vs windows XP pro we can limit features and what products integrate with our software. The version BBY sells doesnít work with lutron homeworks, B&K audio, and the list goes on and on. BBY does there own install. We see this market opportunity as a great way to get customers feet wet in realizing that home automation is real and works very well. If a homeowner wants to do more with their systems than the basic BBY package, they actually get referred to a CI dealer. I personally have seen as many as a dozen folks buy a connectedlife.home system from BBY and then call in to upgrade it and we have fit them up with a custom dealer. Keep in mind there is no wiring or programming to inherent. Lifeware is the programming and their solutions is no new wires, using powerline technology. BBY doesnít want to do anything that includes design work, only a cookie cutter systems that gives the homeowner a great experience. They appreciate what you guys do and they know that they canít scale that, our view is give the customer enough to wet their appetite and next time they will end up buying a fully blown home system that is custom designed by a CEDIA Professional. If you look at the evolution of Home theater, you will find that things like in wall speakers and all the screen and projector companies were born only after home theater in a box was launched at retail , and the customer DIY installed it and realized how much better than his TV speakers it was and the next time he had 20K or he built a new home he called you and wanted you to design something for his house.
EI actually has what we call lifesupport, dealers and BBY alike can sell our call center services for tech support and it is a reoccurring revenue, remote tech support service that allows you guys to have enterprise based tech support for your customers from dedicated professionals with out having to constantly be tied to your cellphone. It is totally your option to use but we have a team of techs that all have industry experience, mainly crestron and amx and all have pulled wire and understand IP networks, MCE, and more.
You can now tell your customers that you provide round the clock phone and remote diagnosis of their system for XXX dollars a month. We then notify you at the point we realize it is something that would require a truck roll.


Anthony Z-This statement raises two issues. One, you are unfamiliar with the remote capabilities of dedicated servers. I am an Xperinet dealer. Remote diagnoses is not only possible but, were a hard drive in the RAID array to go down, I get an email and show up at my client's home with a replacement and they would never even know there was a problem. Two, you openly bring up what is ultimately one of Microsoft's biggest problems. Security. It's not only vulnerable but a clear hacker target....Ping.

SC-Very aware of the remote site tools for request, experinet, lutron, and more. In essence brother, your whole scenario is taking place on your mircosoft machine and you are using a piece of software to remote in to their box and do diagnosis. The only difference from mine is there are more powerful tools built for PCís than the linux piece you are using. Either way Microsoft and software are involved.


Netarc-the beta release of vista that you had probably did have some improvements, software is always evolving and improving. I agree XP properly installed is quite stable.

SC-I did spend some time at vNet and think highly of what they are trying to do. It is not a easy road to plow, but they are dedicated. What I will say is that having worked for a two channel shop in high school that also sold old tube big screens, I left the the industry for 5 years and when I got back in to custom, not a lot had changed. I do believe the industry needs to evolve and that evolution will create greater profits for CI dealers and better experiences for home owners.

The most important piece is that we believe in the CI channel and we have specifically tailored our product to give you guys something that is different. One big form of differentiation actually falls on the vendors that you chose and the channels that they sell their products in. You will never see Lutron Homeworks in retail, or Vantage Infusion, Extron, B&K in BBY. Also we have a large sales and technical sales team that only services CEDIA dealers. Our hardware products that are just coming into the market are only available through the CI channel as well. The reality is the channel that you service today will always need a system properly designed, installed and customized for the needs of the high end user. The guy that would buy a retrofit 15K system from BBY is not your core customer, but with a good experience and a little luck in his career, he will become your customer.

I am probably going to be in trouble with both my staff and the folks that I report to, as my emails are typically one line. As you can see I am very passionate and believe in our product and the CI industry. Please feel free to call me or email me and we can have a lengthy conversation. I am bothered by the lack of factual information on our company, our product, and most of all or dedication to you the CI dealer. IF you are attending EHX, come by our booth, it is the largest at the show, all though money wonít and shouldnít impress you, it does show our dedication to this space. Lastly our CEOís background is in software for POS systems based on Microsoft platform. If you bought your wife or significant other something for Valentines Day last week, from say Victoriaís Secret, they used his POS software on a Microsoft computer to complete the transaction, credit card info and all over a network. THink of the billions of dollars, multiple locations, and simplicity that these systems operate on daily, not to mention the clerks aren't PHDs. Parallels are 24/7/365 reliability, security, ease of use for clerks and Microsoft. Guys it can and does work, yes there are some trick to the trade, but you guys are used to excelling by knowing the trick of the trade. I canít name a large business in the US that isnít running an IT network and Microsoft on PCs to do everything from email to multi billion dollar stock transactions. Let us help you learn the future of this industry. We all ready have a lot of dealers and a lot of installs. Big dealers with big projects.

SC
SC
Post 37 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 22:37
QQQ
Super Member
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On February 17, 2007 at 21:43, [email protected] said...
Anthony:This statement raises two issues. One, you are
unfamiliar with the remote capabilities of dedicated servers.
I am an Xperinet dealer. Remote diagnoses is not only
possible but, were a hard drive in the RAID array to go
down, I get an email and show up at my client's home with
a replacement and they would never even know there was
a problem.

SC: Very aware of the remote site tools for request, experinet,
lutron, and more. In essence brother, your whole scenario
is taking place on your mircosoft machine and you are
using a piece of software to remote in to their box and
do diagnosis. The only difference from mine is there
are more powerful tools built for PCís than the linux
piece you are using. Either way Microsoft and software
are involved.

Not sure how the fact that most PC's involve MS and software is remotely relevant to the false statemet you made that Anthony disputed.
Post 38 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 22:43
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The statement wasn't false, name another product that you can remote into and manage content, play a song, turn the lights on, arm the security system, create a play list and even watch content that is stored on the other end, all on one box, with the exact same interface as the homeowner has, not to mention realtime, and from any PC anywhere in the world, thru any firewall. Don't search to long, you won't find it. My response was Simply stating that even in more primitive products, you are relying on micrsoft on the PC you are using, including right now.
SC
Post 39 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 23:03
QQQ
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On February 17, 2007 at 22:43, [email protected] said...
The statement wasn't false, name another product that
you can remote into and manage content, play a song, turn
the lights on, arm the security system, create a play
list and even watch content that is stored on the other
end, all on one box, with the exact same interface as
the homeowner has, not to mention realtime, and from any
PC anywhere in the world, thru any firewall. Don't search
to long, you won't find it.

Let's look at what you said that Anthony disputed:

When I state "media management"it is by far the best,
I am referencing it being the best all in one, i agree
that kaliedescape is a very nice DVD system, the price
is signfigantly more, i also have had previous Request
experience, good product as well, but stand alone. I
would also challenge how service comes into play. With
the above systems remote diagnoses, remote media management,
and training is impossible. With MCE you could have a
box in your living room right now and i could remote in
and build you a playlist, start a movie, or have you wake
up to my favorite music.

You stated that with the above systems "remote diagnoses, remote media management, and training is impossible." And that statement is simply false.

Now as far as your "challenge" goes, I am not ware of any of the big boys systems that run on a PC that is ALSO a content server, so I guess if that is some magic recipe, you've got a huge leg up on the field (sarcasm). But I can easily do any of those things with Crestron or AMX and an attached media server.

I believe I could also do them with CQC, which is software based, though even in that scenario I would PURPOSELY separate the PC running the automation software from the media center although it could certainly be done on one box.
Post 40 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 23:14
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QQQ, walk me thru how you help a homeowner in florida, when your office is in say California, load a picture onto their crestron system and then associate the pic with a certain scene in their dining room so that they have it up on their plasma when they hit the romantic dinner scene that is controlling the lights, audio, and digital artwork. All while they sit in front of the crestron panel, so they can replicate it next time they want to add a new photo, and owe by the way the lights are a little dim can we up those to 60%. By the way send a bill when you are done. Life|support or you could be done in say a minute or two. Keep writing code, while your competitors are out installing another job and providing better service.

I have lived with, sold and installed the other "great" systems, they can't perform on the same level as enterprise based micrsoft software product. Quit kidding yourself.
SC
Post 41 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 23:19
Moe's original BBQ
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On February 17, 2007 at 23:14, [email protected] said...
|
I have lived with, sold and installed the other "great"
systems, they can't perform on the same level as enterprise
based micrsoft software product. Quit kidding yourself.



Are you related to or possibly the former LakerFan?

Time to put the bottle down.
Paramount Audio Video
California/Colorado
Post under Matt Marple on www.esiorg.com and Matt on www.integrationpros.org
Post 42 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 23:25
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Not sure about the lakerfan? or the bottle? But sounds like a good time.

I am continually impressed with what can be done on the Microsoft platform. Alot of things that during my CI days were impossible or at least outside of my skill set. Sorry to be over the top. We wow alot of our dealers that come in with pretty simple things that our platform allows us to do that they previously had only dreamed about.
SC
Post 43 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 23:27
Moe's original BBQ
Active Member
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703
On February 17, 2007 at 23:14, [email protected] said...
Keep writing code, while your competitors
are out installing another job and providing better service.

Gee, I've never heard this before. Seems all start ups keep using this as a sales approach lately. Let me guess, this product is a "Crestron killer".
Paramount Audio Video
California/Colorado
Post under Matt Marple on www.esiorg.com and Matt on www.integrationpros.org
Post 44 made on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 23:51
tsvisser
Founding Member
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1,228
I think that Steve might address a valid point for some companies... those that do not have programming capability built in or have a poor relationship with a programming vendor. If there is a problem with the programming or relationship, then yes, it is overpriced. However, programming is generally a very small fraction of the overall project and where I think that many of the members can find criticism for EI's approach is how light it seems to be in the aspects of an integration project, where it would potentially fail even before one gets to the point where one needs to deploy a program. If you are hiring people that do this type of integration for a living (and have experience), then you will increase your chances of success... however, if you are implying that the limiting factor of competitors' control products is their cost of programming and capabilities, I just don't really see that at a viable statement of fact. I happen to program as a major component of my job, and right now I do not have any significant backlog of jobs... any jobs that are pending have a dependency on some other aspect of the job and not the programming itself.

MS is a tool and it can be implemented to do wonderful things. What is to stop another non-EI dealer from implementing these tools in such a way to give them the same capabilities. It will not be a "1-box" solution, but I see that as irrelevant to the context of quality and capability of product... for Best Buy... a "box" to sell with a fixed "capability" is important, but to those that deliver custom solutions, it does not really matter what the boxes are or how many of them... but the end product. Any of those things that you listed can in fact be accomplished by other products.

I typically deal with Apple products, but don't feel that I am necessarily biased against MS in any way. I think that I have a lot of criticisms, but ones that are valid. When talking about purchased music, MS does not really compete in the market space. The fact is, that it is not an open "standards based" environment. DRM is here for the present and prohibits cross platform compatibility. This fact alone seems to strike a big problem in the plans of any product that relies on WINDRM10 in the form of some MS Media Player in that the scores of iTunes users out there (note that I did not say Apple) will not be able to play their media on your system. Apple has a very healthy envrionment and with new products, is going to do even better. iTunes, Apple TV, Airport Express, XServe RAID for up to 10.5 TB of starage per chassis. Remote diagnostics and control are also very good on the Apple side, as are they on MS, and other vendors also have solutions that work very well for the demand from dealers either stand alone or in conjunction with a solutions partner.

I don't partake in the marketing gimmick that EI has found the flaw in the "state of custom installation" and have fixed it by introducing a revolutionary box that is unlike any other system out there. Any truths that you can make via technicalities are not so substantial when evaluated in context. I'm sure there are some valid pros to the system, so lets talk about those, or... prove me wrong. My first question, how are you going to enlist the assistance and form a partnership with the professionals that are currently experts in this field? We are always learning new technologies and changing as required by the march of technology. We are certainly not the "old guard" from which EI is breaking out of. The suspicion that I think many feel on this board, is that by employing BB and these other yet to be named integration partners - is that the field of experts is going to be BB salesmen, or specialized BB teams, which is fine if they put the training into such resources, but most of us seem to doubt this... and rather see EI attempting to bypass the members of the community of custom installers and integrators.
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Post 45 made on Sunday February 18, 2007 at 00:00
2nd rick
Super Member
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On February 17, 2007 at 23:14, [email protected] said...
I have lived with, sold and installed the other "great"
systems, they can't perform on the same level as enterprise
based microsoft software product. Quit kidding yourself.

Wow... an empirical statement that we are no longer relevant... I am marking this, it's ~10:30 CST on Feb. 17, 2007.

Nice...

Here is an empirical statement from 2R right back at'cha...

Anything that runs on a Microsoft Windows OS will be subject to screen freeze, lock up, upgrade request window pop-ups, reboots, etc...

That's why in "enterprise" applications, a FULL TIME IT STAFF is required to manage the interaction of the hardware, software, peripherals, and operators. THIS is what is missing from your argument.

Here is why that is not my cup of tea for a home unit that is allowed to interact with fairly important elements of home control...

Anytime something wigs out and that resource of on-staff IT pros are not available, there will be a long line of friends, family, babysitter's boyfriends, and neighborhood kids who are "computer guys" and are willing to step in and attempt troubleshoot it because it appears to be like the OS on their laptops or home PCs... So it will get all f*cked up JUST LIKE their laptops and PCs to the point that is may require an OS wipe/rebuild... I am fairly confident that these parties will not have nearly as much access to put their mark on a system comprised of Crestron, AMX, RTI, Elan, HAI, etc.

I would rather "keep writing code" and NEVER have to deal with Windows in this context...
Rick Murphy
Troy, MI
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