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Savant to Discontinue Dedicated Touchpanels

CEO Bob Madonna says legacy touchpanels can't compete with the iPad.


Savant CEO Bob Madonna cited the 3 million iPads sold in 80 days, comparing that to the estimated 1 million touchpanels the custom industry has sold in more than 40 years.
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Calling the thirst for the Apple iPad a “feeding frenzy,” Savant is discontinuing several of its dedicated touchpanel lines.

The company will phase out its 5-, 7-, 9- and 12-inch touchpanel lines, replacing them all with the iPad. Savant will continue to make its 18- and 24-inch panels, which are primarily for commercial applications. CEO Bob Madonna cited the 3 million iPads Apple sold in 80 days, comparing that to the estimated 1 million touchpanels the entire custom industry has sold in more than 40 years.

“I don’t believe the legacy touchpanels of the past will compete [with the iPad] … even our own,” said Madonna. “That’s why the iPad will replace many of our own touchpanels. iPad is not only revolutionary, it’s technically superior and accepted by end users, which is critically important. Is the interface less expensive? Yes. But it will create enormous market demand.”

“This industry could potentially grow by orders of magnitude. It’s a huge opportunity and we need to do it together,” Madonna added.

Madonna made the announcement at Savant’s fourth annual dealer conference in New York City, where more than 240 integrators were in attendance, the highest attendance the company has ever had, according to president Jim Carroll. Savant also unveiled several new products, a new 5,000-square-foot extension to its existing 3,000-square-foot experience center in Manhattan, and named its Rosie Red Carpet awards highlighting the best installations using Savant products.

Piggybacking on iPad

Savant has spent four years developing a dealer base around its Rosie Apple-based whole-house control system. Savant thinks the demand for iPads has put Savant in a strong position in terms of technology and mindshare.

“Apple is basically teaching millions of consumers how to use touchpanels, and every one of them can run home automation,” Madonna said. “We started this company back in 2005 to change the industry with a new business model. With Blueprint [the company’s design software that enables dealers to program systems quickly] and Apple, we have brought together the keys to success for this industry.”

Madonna said that because Savant does all its programming in Apple, its applications run faster. He also pointed out that the iPad screen is “totally customizable. It’s not true what the competitors are saying. All the buttons, colors, etc. can be changed without writing code,” he adds. So far, Savant has had 800-900 downloads of its $9.99 Savant iPad demo app.

New Products

Product announcements at the conference included:

  • An “overhauling” of its current iPhone app to allow landscape and portrait modes
  • TrueImage touchpanel design is now available on the iPad
  • Several iPad in-wall and desktop docking stations
  • An in-wall iPod Touch docking station (MSRP $200) that allows for both portrait and landscape modes
  • The integration of Hulu, Boxee, Plex and other streaming media sources into the Savant on-screen display (OSD) for TVs
  • The incorporation of the new Mac Mini computer as the new engine for Savant home automation
  • The new Rosie MSC 24SE matrix switcher (MSRP $10,000) that can support up to 12 OSDs, 12 card slots, a hot swappable fan tray and optional redundant dual power supplies
  • A line of HDMI extenders that will run Cat 5 up to 330 feet (MSRP $700) and a fiber extender (MSRP $1,700) that will run signals up to 1,000 feet
  • Two video processing cards. One is a scaler module ($2,400) and the other is a less expensive video processor for the OSD ($3,600). All cards will now come with locking HDMI connectors
  • Two Touch TVs, an 18-inch version ($8,000 MSRP) and a 24-inch version ($10,000)

Rosie Red Carpet Awards

Savant also recognized exceptional installations using its equipment through its Rosie Red Carpet Awards.

  • Best iPhone/iPod touch integration: Precision Audio Visual of Fairfield, Conn.
  • Best OSD Install: Versao Brasileira (Brazil)
  • Best Rosie System 24 Install: Home Theater Hook-Up of Anthem, Ariz.
  • Best Rosie System 36 Install: Theatron of Purcellville, Va.
  • Best system $75K and up (cost of Savant gear): All Audio Video of Prince William, Va.
  • Best Integrated Home: Home Media, Inc of Ketchum, Idaho
  • Savant Integrator of the Year: Phoenix Unequaled Home Entertainment of Cordova, Tenn.
  • CEO’s Choice Award: Advanced Communications Technologies of Rockland, Mass.


  About the Author

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. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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