The Marketing Challenges of Remote Controls and Home Automation – CEPro
In June, Logitech announced theÂ Harmony Pro, a new universal remote and home automation controller for the custom integration channel.
For perspective on the product, I spoke with an industry friend â€” an integrator-turned-home-automation manufacturer â€” about his experiences with Harmony. This friend has tried all of the DIY-type smart home hubs, including Revolv (he liked it!), Wink, SmartThings, Loweâ€™s Iris, Staples Connect, Vera (MiOS) and apparently every other Internet of Things device du jour.
Calling it â€œa phenomenal product,â€ he says Harmony is his go-to remote and home controller: â€œIt allows complete control of your A/V equipment along with Z-Wave and ZigBee devices via an app. Itâ€™s very easy to set up and use. I use it every day and love it.â€
So why, I wondered, do you rarely hear Harmony mentioned in the same breath as all those other hubs? Maybe because those other guys are â€œframed and positioned as home automation because thatâ€™s all they do,â€ says Logitech senior product manager Todd Walker, â€œwhereas Logitechâ€™s legacy is in A/V control.â€
If I were giving a keynote address, I would pause and repeat that line for emphasis (though I hate when presenters do that). Walker says he hadnâ€™t really thought about this issue â€” if it actually is an issue â€” but now was wondering, out loud, â€œMaybe we need to rethink that.â€
Itâ€™s a struggle for good remote-control companies to join the smart-home conversation, even when their automation systems rival the best in the business. And vice versa.
If you want a universal remote control, do you turn to a home automation company? It doesnâ€™t seem natural.
The leading remote-control companies in the installer channel know this all too well. URC and RTI have spent years to get a seat at the home automation table. At the same time, Control4, Crestron, Elan, Savant and other top control companies canâ€™t seem to sell their products as â€œuniversal remote controlsâ€ because perhaps they do too much.
I have suggested to all of them in the past that they bundle a remote with a controller and package it as a remote control system.* None of them has really taken this approach except for Savant with its new Savant Remote for consumers and Savant Pro remote for integrators.*
None of the DIY-oriented home automation systems include handheld remote controls, and most wonâ€™t control a TV system. And yet, they dominate the DIY smart-home dialog. Logitech Harmony, on the other hand, has a solid remote and a â€œphenomenalâ€ home automation solution if you believe my friend, yet is mostly an asterisk in the IoT universe.
Logitech truly does want to be known as a home automation provider. Itâ€™s just that the company has â€œfound entertainment is the primary entry point to the smart home,â€ Walker says.
For pros, the answer is pretty simple: Your customer wants a remote control? Sell them a remote control. They want a home automation system? Sell them a home automation system. Even if theyâ€™re both the same product. For the manufacturer, consider two different packages and messages for the exact same product.
You need look no further than the â€œcold medicineâ€ aisle at the drug store, where every product comes in three or four different boxes, each with a different message to fix whatever ails the customer at any given time.
*That oh, by the way, does home automation, too.
Write a Reply or Comment:
You must be logged in to post a comment.