I'm posting this as part of a response to: [Link: remotecentral.com]
I realize this may not be the correct forum but I feel I had something to say regarding the ongoing debate of professionals and consumers. To me it comes down to supply versus demand. I believe that demand for integrated remotes/HT/home automation will increase as technology improves, price points decrease, and economies of scale increase. As price points decrease and ease of use increases, I think consumers will increasingly demand the ability to "program" themselves. That being said, there will always be a market for the services of setting up, programming, and technical expertise that many of you here provide. In almost every consumer driven industry there are people who do it themselves and people that provide service.
Of course, I have read strong opinions and arguments from both sides of the debate and I openly admit I am more biased to the consumer point of view as I do believe in the free market system. No one has been able to stop demand and where there’s demand there’s supply. Being protectionistic of the distribution channels and/or software simply creates a black market. After all everything is for sale at a certain price.
Hardware procurement: If I were to purchase something off ebay and not from an authorized distribution channel I know I am risking warranty and support. For some people this is an acceptable risk, for others the security of knowing the person/place they purchased an item holds more value. Personally, I am more in favor of the latter. From a market perspective there's room for all channels. If I was a professional installer, the more remotes out there, the better chance someone is going to need my experience and expertise to help them. I would think most installers make (lose) their profit from their time not selling their hardware. Fortunately or unfortunately, one has to accept where they can and cannot compete. Ultimately, it is up to the person buying the item not the person selling the item how they purchase the item. If a product is only supported through a professional installer, what happens when the installer closes business or sells out? At the end of the day, the manufacturer is accountable to the consumer and I believe those channels should be wide open.
Service: Knowing ones core competencies is the key to success. I think the greatest asset I've seen/heard about through this website is the dmx-3000 software. I have a lot of respect for Bracken Baker (BBB) for his value added service/software. Now there's an example of a professional capturing a "demand" and satisfying it. Regardless of where the potential profit from the remote was made, there’s profit to be made in the programming/servicing of home installs that can/could be very lucrative. I’ve seen several value added services because of RC (guifx, prontowizard, and BBB to name a few). If I attempt to program my future remote, I have absolutely no problem paying someone if I can’t solve the problem myself. However, I have a hard time stomaching not allowing me the opportunity to challenge myself within the “legal” confines of manufacturer/dealer relationship (RTI, Control4, et al). In my opinion, this industry was founded on consumers’ demand for consolidation and automation that AMX and Crestron (et al) originally provided (and continues to provide). At that time much of the automation was pioneering which was far beyond any reasonable consumers’ ability. However, like the first computers that required computer language skills to operate, I strongly believe intellectual business models (and gui’s) that made Apple and Microsoft famous can and will be applied to home automation.
URC: I understand the value of a quality product - especially one that meets or exceeds its marketing promise. Although as a consumer I do question the current reliability of URC, I do give them very high credit for their effort to make appearances on RC. How many companies have you seen that are actively out there providing damage control, responding to questions, providing personal lines of communication, and seeking your input? My props to Jeff Wagner and Eric Johnson (a VP no less) to make such a valiant effort. In my opinion, RTI may currently have the superior product but URC has the better overall business model (hmm Apple vs Microsoft again?!?).
Thanks to all at RC! The combined opinions, expertise, and willingness to share your talents on this website is a credit to your industry.