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How the iPad Will Shatter Touchscreen Pricing

Vantage/Legrand believes the iPad will break "industry paradigms" for touchscreen pricing, software, and physical format.


Vantage/Legrand says dedicated touchscreens will never go away, but it believes the iPad will shatter “industry paradigms” for pricing, software, and physical format.

Vantage/Legrand says the iPad will shatter existing pricing, software, and physical format of touchscreens.

"There will always be a place for dedicated touchscreens, but the iPad certainly breaks paradigms in the industry in terms of what it does vs. other existing touchpanels in the market," says Andrew Wale, Vantage/Legrand VP of marketing, who called home automation the iPad's "killer app."

"It's not inconceivable that the iPad will create the potential for some dealers to move away from dedicated touchscreens. But the big unanswered question is will there be available home control apps that work in an open, practical environment. It will be a challenge for dealers to find out what home control apps are available for the iPad."

"Even if the iPad has great success, there will continue to be multiple interfaces on the market: on-screen, mobile, hand-held remotes and even hard keypads are not going away," he adds. "[The] iPad is just another remote option interface for dealers to sell."

Price Pressure Will Occur

Wale believes the iPad will definitely lead to some price pressure on dedicated touchscreens. He advises integrators to emphasize that the value they bring to a client goes beyond the hardware.

"Yes, we will have to challenge ourselves on our pricing, but it does not mean every touchpanel on the market is all of a sudden going to be selling for $500," he says. "The days of earning lots of margin on touchscreens are gone. It's a tough segment already even before the iPad. You can't expect to build your integration business on product margin from tablets anyway. If you are still trying to do that, you are not going to be around long."

Wale advises dealers to establish installation and service policies for iPads and determine how they will handle installation when the homeowner buys his own iPad. Dealers also need to decide if they will service a broken iPad.

Potential Problems

Wale says dealers will face several concerns if they abandon dedicated touchscreens for the iPad or any third-party GUI:
  • Integrators cannot guarantee 100 percent product performance with a third-party touchscreen
  • Dealer warranties for dedicated touchscreens are an important part of the value for clients
  • The iPad is not currently viable as a primary control for a home theater because there are too many buttons that will have to be pushed compared to a dedicated touchscreen
And the fact that the iPad is wireless does not make it conducive for home control of entry/exit functions, including arming or disarming an alarm system or even manipulating the lights when you arrive home. Those tasks are still going to require a fixed, dedicated touchscreen near the door.

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Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Home Automation · Ipad · Apple · Vantage · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

25 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by jiveturkey  on  04/02  at  10:08 AM

Yeah, the new business model is to install foundational systems that have value.  Oh wait, those systems exist in the marketplace today and many professional installers use them.  People fixate on interfaces because they don’t understand AUTOMATION is different than control.

Posted by Robin Ford  on  04/02  at  11:22 AM

Shift Happens, that’s my motto. Having lived through the shift from high priced proprietary systems to open systems in the IT world, this is deja vu. It usually takes a 7-8 year cycle from the talk phase to real products and solutions being available. It’s a painful process, but forward thinking manufacturers and installers will find the opportunity in this paradigm shift and build upon it. I think it’s clear that we are at the crest of a tsunami about to hit the residential automation and control market. The great upside is that the 98% of the available market that could not be addressed by high end proprietary systems, will now become available to us.

Posted by Jack Goldberg  on  04/02  at  12:32 PM

I agree with Andrew, the iPad is a good addition to the automation system, but it will not eliminate proven bullet proof touch screens.

Posted by jbrown  on  04/02  at  12:51 PM

No multitasking and the inability to force the iPad to boot directly to a specific app, such as a Crestron app means that while it may be a great secondary controller, it will just be too clunky to use as a primary point of control for a system.

So you’re reading an e-book and want to turn on the lights?
1. Exit the book app
2. Open the control app
3. Navigate to the lighting page
4. Change the lights
5. Exit the control app
6. Reopen the book app
7. Hopefully it remembers your book and page number

Now if you jailbreak it, and lock it down to Crestron, Savant, etc. then you might have something cool. But then it’s just a touchpanel and there’s definitely not going to be a warranty in that situation.

It would be great if Apple would OEM this to a few manufacturers so we could sell 10” WiFi touchpanels for $1,000.00 or less. Of course, anyone who’s used a Crestron, AMX, Pronto or URC WiFi touchpanel knows it isn’t exactly a rock solid reliable experience.

Jason Brown

Posted by av_roller  on  04/02  at  01:30 PM

Multitasking is coming this summer.

Jailbreak can be undone very easy if warranty issue comes up.

I’m running a jailbroke iPhone with a Bitwise Controls BC4 processor ($299) and Command Fusion’s iViewer ($149), and it’s been rock solid. I’ll be going to market with iPad tomorrow.

iPad is the future, like it or not.

Posted by MCE INTEGRATOR  on  04/02  at  01:55 PM

Why is it such a big deal to exit out of an app to control your home?  The only downside would be if your automation app is extremely slow to respond.  (I know the iPod app I’ve used is surprisingly fast, and they rely on a g network, whereas the iPad is N).

Here’s what happens if you are using an iPad as well as a dedicated controller

1. Carry the iPad and a dedicated controller (hopefully the controller is charged, since it consumes batteries rapidly)
2. Lean over
3. Put down ipad
4. Pick up dedicated controller
5. Push a button
6. Wait for it to come out of standby and connect to the network
7. Control my lighting (however many button pushes that takes)
8. Put the controller down
9. Lean over
10. Pick the iPad back up
11. Start reading my book again

This can go both ways.  I believe the iPad experience is more credible.  One device, a few extra button pushes, really is it that bad?  The extras an iPad will give you far out weighs the cons/con (push an extra button on the touchscreen I’m already carrying around).  You could say that a dedicated controller can’t even come close to the amount of extras that an iPad can give you.  The mindset needs to be shifted into automation as an app that runs on ubiquitous devices.  Automation will be consumed better this way.  It will get into more homes this way.  Though the average consumer can install an app. they can’t do the back end.  We get into more homes because the hardware is reasonable now, finally.  My profit stays the same since I charge more for my service and the customers overall price has dropped significantly.

As far as app based automation, I know of at least one company that has had this model figured out for quite a while now.  Lifeware, which is software that bridges all the gaps, and runs like an app on a variety of devices.  The controller for a house can be any windows computer.  (I know, a plug like this, you might think I work for them, but I promise I don’t.)  Be kind of funny if Vantage came full circle, to being a software provider, after nearly merging with Lifeware at one point in their history. 

Go cheap 3rd party control devices!  We also have a long line of compelling Windows, and Android devices right around the corner.  Just waiting to be exploited for automation.

Posted by Robin Ford  on  04/02  at  02:06 PM

As with any new product, there will be kinks and issues to be resolved. I guess my point is that despite all the objections and technical issues, momentum is with the iPhone/iPad and I’m thinking that it’s almost impossible to stop something like that. Whereas before, the installer drove the decision about the system to be installed, I think we’ll now see the homeowner/business owner making demands and driving those decision.

Posted by marc fleury  on  04/02  at  02:41 PM

I am involved with and we have been marketing a generic interface generator.  We target iphone and android. You generate interfaces as a integrator and we integrate with popular protocols.

The biggest uptake we have is with the iphone and KNX integration, in europe.  The iphone has been rock solid and a very popular platform.

To us it is clear that the iPad is going to change HA, the business model, as we know it. It makes existing panels from vendors look not only pricey but ... old…
the resistive screens from Crestron and AMX? that sell for 6x the price?

I actually believe that android is going to overtake that market eventually, as hardware catches up with it.  Whether it is the iPad or something else, it seems obvious that the future is open interfaces and programmable devices.  This does not mean the end of integration, quite the contrary, it opens many interesting venues for integration but it will take some adaptation.

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  04/02  at  06:58 PM

The same game changing momentum has been around since the days of palm. Go over to remotecentral and find a dead forum devoted to products that were going to kill proprietary touchpanels. I wouldn’t hold my breath if you are betting that control system touchpanels will fall to $500 each or go away completely.

Obviously the iPad is bringing us closer to a replacement and it will end up in systems where budget is an issue. But as it is right now it just plain sucks to use for watching TV. Good luck with your channel surfing when you have to wait for it to connect each time. You should buy a couple of them so you can quickly be up and running after your family members throw it against the wall and jump up and down on it as the scream in frustration.

The guys at command fusion claim they may have a work around for keeping the app launched and the connection established and IMO jail breaking it so you can use it as a dedicated touchpanel isnt a terrible idea. I would be more than happy to have an iPad as a touchpanel in a Crestron system so long as it stays connected to the control system.

IMO staying connected to the control system is the only real hurdle that stands between the iPad and todays wi-fi control system touchpanels.

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  04/04  at  09:56 PM

@ jbrown you are missing one small detail in your scenarion: Just like you are not browsing the internet with your Crestron controller, The iPad that is integrated as a control panel will be dedicated to this task only. So there is no need to close the app and switch between apps.

On the other hand, I do agree with the need of multitasking/multi-threading in order to be able to tun background tasks. But as av_roller mentioned, it is coming very soon.

Posted by Believe in the iPad  on  04/04  at  11:36 PM

I would like to correct and inform a little.

1.  Savant - has an in wall permanent mount shown on the website. The app can be set to never sleep.

2.  Control4 - has a dedicated mode for the iPad app and a screen saver.

After using one in my home for the past day and using the c4 app - I can say the iPad is awesome. Everyone will have their own uses for it. I think these apps are going to get better and better. I like the idea of being able to sell a client a touchscreen solution for multiple rooms that I would only be able to sell one before. We have to embrace the technology. The days of having to write lines of code and charge clients $500 to reprogram for a new DVD player are going away. Adapt or be left in the dust. Do not embrace this technology and you will not be in this business much longer.

The iPad is fast, cheap and reliable. Does Crestron do that?

My 2 cents

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  04/04  at  11:47 PM

When you say “The days of having to write lines of code and charging the clients $500 to reprogram for a new dvd player are going away” what do you mean?

Are you saying that Apple will program your custom system for you and make a 99 cent app that will only be sold to your client?

Are you saying that Control4’s iPad app is completely plug and play and the dealer doesn’t have to do anything? You are able to magically add a zone to your system?

Posted by Robin Ford  on  04/05  at  10:57 AM

In my opinion, there was no game changing momentum with the palm or any other handheld, until the iPhone/iPod. The technology existed, yes. Not the momentum. There’s a big difference. The Apple app store, and it’s popularity with mainstream consumers set the change in motion. Innovative products that support that model are the game changers. Previous to this, the vendors and dealer/installers in the control and automation market pretty much dictated what products would be used. Now, I think the consumer has been awakened and will begin dictating what will be used. That’s an enormous shift. Again, just my humble opinion.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  04/05  at  12:17 PM

MCE integrator ... you oversimplify.

What if it’s an emergency and you MUST turn up the thermostat right away?!

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  04/05  at  02:03 PM

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/05 at 12:17 PM:

“..What if it’s an emergency and you MUST turn up the thermostat right away?!..”

@Julie: Isn’t that why the regular thermostat is there for redundancy?

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