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Charmed Quark Won’t Open-Source Automation Software

Charmed Quark has decided to take another shot at business, rather than abandon shop and open-source its CQC home automation software. Too late for CE Pros?

Just as it was about to close shop and relinquish its software to the open-source community, Charmed Quark has changed its mind.

The maker of CQC home-automation software is not going to open-source its product after all. Instead, says owner Dean Roddey, “Our first goal is still to try to find someone with significant resources to really help us move the product forward more quickly.”

Roddey and his partner Mark Stega will “create a substantial pool of equity from our holdings, and offer this to three to five people to come on board and help grow the company,” he writes in the Charmed Quark forums less than three weeks after declaring the end of the road for the company as we know it.

He notes that Charmed Quark will implement changes to make the system more appealing to professional integrators, who have generally shunned the DIY-oriented software.

Most importantly, Roddey says, Charmed Quark will add a “simplified layer over the existing complex substrate to help make it more appealing to installers.” Today, CQC software is notoriously complicated because it does not offer out-of-the-box templates from which to build a complete system.

“We will likely put some of the new resources towards creating specialized, fixed-function, versions of the product for sale without the need for customization,” Roddey explains.

Charmed Quark also is seeking a hardware partner beyond Vidabox, which currently offers CQC for premium whole-house solutions.

Too Late for CE Pros?

Unfortunately, the move probably comes too late for the pro market. The few integrators that considered CQC in the past (only a “handful” have actually installed it, Roddey admits) may have lost faith in Charmed Quark’s stability as a company.

To make it, Charmed Quark will need a hardware partner and an accomplished business person running the show.

Professional installers will demand something a little more concrete than this:

We will probably phase out the maintenance scheme, or limit it to one year at a time in the future, or some such thing, because of the experience with our recent announcement [customers demanding refunds for multi-year service agreements].

Even if all of us for a while are working part time on it, that will still be way more manpower and time zone coverage than is currently available. With this extra manpower, we should be able to address the issues that have limited the product in the market, and subsequently move everyone towards full time employment as soon as possible.

Given this decision, I'm going to 'open the store' again, though we will discourage the purchase of maintenance coverage for the moment until we decide for sure whether we want to do that or not in the future. It's awfully convenient, but it has been shown to be a bit of a potential problem. Maybe we'll continue to allow it as long as the buyer indicates agreement with some fairly common sense potential business realities in the future, which I would have thought everyone should already understand but obviously not all of them do, and limited to perhaps one or two years or something like that.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Home Automation and Control · Charmed Quark · Open Source · · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

7 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by datadawg  on  07/27  at  05:03 PM

I am glad to hear that Dean and Mark are sticking it out and wish them the best of luck. I installed a Charmed Quark system last year for a customer and despite some gliches, some of which were on my side, everything went well and I am very impressed with the system. I glad that they have decided to add the “simplified layer” as it would make things a lot easier on installers. I am definitely keeping them in my product offering and I am planning on switch my home system over to CQ, in the near future.

I have full confidence in Dean and Mark and sincerely hope that someone steps up and helps out. I also encourage installers to take a close look at CQ and give it a chance. It really is a powerful system with great potential.

Posted by marc fleury  on  07/29  at  02:07 PM

OSS is a complicated business model. I can’t blame them for pursuing other options.

Posted by Steve  on  07/31  at  07:21 AM

As a DIY, I looked at there product a while ago and passed it over because of the price. I found a just as powerful software cheaper else where.
When I heard they were going open source I thought I would give them another look. I downloaded the trials and manuals.
Then I hear they are not open sourcing it.
I think it is bad form for them to announce this and then renege on it. It seems to point more towards they did it to get some traffic to their site.
If they don’t want to open source it, maybe they should think about cutting the price. I think they would pick up more DIY. The CE Pros would like it better too because more of their fee goes in their pocket and not for software payments.

Posted by jason  on  08/04  at  12:34 PM

I passed on it because it looked complacated and I just could not intragrate fast on jobs I don’t want to spen hours programming and the customers are not willing to pay for that.  Also the maintance cost drove me away I have no problem paying for it but the reoccuring cost drove most of my customers away from it who know if the price would rise?  So to put delvelopment time in a product that they where usure they coud keep or afford in the future they just where not willing to do.

Although I think it is a great product and one of a kind with a different marketing stragy and changing alot of things I think it could be sucessful.  He hit the nail on the head to expensive and cmlacated for alot of the DIY and not robust and fast to install for the professional.

Posted by Calvin  on  08/12  at  10:56 PM

I know precisely why they went back. It was the people demanding refunds on their maintenance contracts.  They were probably living on that as their income and don’t have the money to refund those people. So, their only alternative is to keep going and fullfill those obligations.  I think though that they could open source it and still keep fullfilling thos obligations. Actually I think they could to better in that case by encourageing a cottage industry of expert helpers (think of Linux) to take all the work off of them.
In any event, I am sad. I wanted to seriously pursue using CQ in my home, but I can’t afford to.  Open source is my payment ability…..

Posted by amccool  on  09/07  at  06:25 PM

Why cant they open-source the product and keep the company running as well?

They could continue to sell support contracts and the DIY’ers improve the product (and in a pinch buy more support)

Are they thinking they will sell the license to another company?

Posted by Chris  on  12/14  at  03:25 PM

Hey Steve, can you let me know what software you went with?  I’m a DIY and have checked out CQC last couple of years.  Now I’m in a new house and ready to start from scratch.  Could use some advice and direction. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Thank you!

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