Control & Automation

Control4 Acquires Ihiji, Will Drop Recurring Fees for Remote Network Management

In acquiring Ihiji’s remote monitoring and management system, home automation leader Control4 will eliminate monthly fees for smart-home pros.

Control4 Acquires Ihiji, Will Drop Recurring Fees for Remote Network Management
Home automation leader Control4 acquires Ihiji, and will integrate the remote systems management service with Pakedge and BakPak networking platforms.

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Control4 offers the ultimate home automation solution by making the products and systems you already have and use everyday, work together. By integrating everything from...
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Julie Jacobson · January 3, 2018

Home-automation leader Control4 (Nasdaq: CTRL) is acquiring Ihiji, with the goal of becoming the top remote systems management provider for smart-home pros. Coupling Ihiji with Control4’s Pakedge networking solutions will give dealers a one-stop shop for managing both IP networks and IoT ecosystems remotely.

Ihiji is a leading provider of remote monitoring services for the home-technology channel, enabling pros to manage their clients’ networks and connected devices from afar.

No More Recurring Ihiji Invision Fees

The big news for dealers today is that Control4 is eliminating the recurring fees associated with Ihiji’s Invision service, just as the company did with Pakedge’s BakPak cloud service post-acquisition.

“Just buy the device and get the Invision service,” says Control4 marketing SVP Susan Cashen, in an interview with CE Pro. “Then we can give dealers the choice of charging their clients.”

 “That big obstacle is gone now,” says Ihiji founder and CEO Stuart Rench of the erstwhile fees that have discouraged so many dealers from implementing remote services – whether Ihiji’s or others.

The largest competitor, OvrC from SnapAV, eliminated its own recurring fees shortly after launching its remote management service. The other notable competitor in the channel, Domotz, charges just a few dollars per month for its service.

Ihiji’s 2,000 Integrations

Ihiji has relationships with most of the major home-automation companies, as well as channel-friendly networking and power-management companies. Software drivers written for these third-party providers enable dealers to tap into their clients’ networks and see not just the IP systems but all the connected devices as well.

Control4 SVP Susan Cashen is confident that integrators who do not already use Pakedge for their networking solutions will move to that brand once they get a whiff of Ihiji integration.

Dealers can diagnose connectivity issues and fix many problems remotely. They can reboot individual devices or reset an entire network if necessary … and charge for the service, thanks to Ihiji’s ServiceManager software.

Control4 says these integrations will continue after the acquisition, even if those other home-control and networking companies compete with Control4.

Cashen says that supporting competitive products is nothing new to the home-control company. They do it all the time today with drivers for third-party lighting, thermostats and audio gear, for example, even though Control4 has its own offerings.

Ultimately, however, Control4 believes once dealers are exposed to its own solutions, they will want more of it. In this case, Cashen is confident that integrators who do not already use Pakedge for their networking solutions will move to that brand once they get a whiff of Ihiji integration.

Later this year, Control4 will combine Ihiji’s Invision and Pakedge’s BakPak services into one integrated platform that will “blow everything else away,” Cashen says. “No one else is going to come close to us when it comes to that platform.”

Did Control4 really need Ihiji? BakPak eventually could have gotten there, right?

It would have been really challenging for Control4 to go it alone, Cashen explains: “Where we’ve been struggling to catch up is in the 2,000 devices supported by Ihiji. They support Savant, Crestron, AMX and others.”

For his part, Rench says Ihiji could not have created a Pakedge or BakPak-like experience on its own.

“Pakedge can do management of [network] devices in a deeper way than we ever could,” he says. “Where we really diverge is the management of other manufacturers’ products.”

With Pakedge, he adds, “We already have the best components. Now we will build the best ecosystems.”

For now, Control4 will begin selling the previously named Ihiji APP-750 network appliance under the new moniker Pakedge NX-1, priced at $650 MSRP.

Later this year, Control4 will make the new integrated service platform available to all Ihiji, Control4 and Pakedge dealers through a software update prices for supported devices, including Ihiji’s APP-750, and any Pakedge router/gateway that supports BakPak (NX-1, NK-1, RK-1, WR-1.)



  About the Author

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. Email Julie at [email protected]

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  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Whole House Control · Networking & Cables · Networking · Business · Service & Recurring Revenue · News · Products · Control4 · Ihiji · Mergers and Acquisitions · Remote Management · Remote Monitoring · RMR · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Harald Steindl on January 8, 2018

I totally disagree with a lot of people out there thinking that nixing the montly fees is a good idea.
Where does the cashflow come from when C4 does not charge for their service of keeping the servers up and running?
Is there any change in the terms of service?
When C4 is NOT charging but the integrator chooses to do so, there is the potential of a huge legal problem.
By not taking any money C4 can hardly be forced to keep a service up or to fulfill a certain availability/SLA/etc.
On the other hand the integrator takes hard bucks from the enduser for a service he/she has no control over whatsoever. I would be very interested in how C4 is going to educate their dealers about this potential dilemma.
Besides this, congrats to Ihiji!

Posted by JW-TIH on January 6, 2018

Actually @mgrady, if I was an investor in ihiji, the second thing I’d do was give props everywhere possible.  Right after depositing that check… raspberry

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on January 4, 2018

100% genuine.  No other bone in my body. smile

Posted by mgrady on January 4, 2018

All good Joey. If I was an investor I wouldn’t be the first one to give props as it wouldn’t seem genuine.  Best of luck!

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on January 4, 2018

@mgrday, I was an investor and have been on their board for the past three years (and haven’t been shy about it - I’ve mentioned it many times in various articles and blog posts, etc).  With this acquisition I am completely disconnected from Ihiji (except that we still buy the product/services).

Was there something I said that have you concern for a conflict of interest?  Certainly not giving myself props - all credit due to Stuart, Mike, and the Ihiji crew!

Posted by mgrady on January 4, 2018

Joey for full disclosure you were an investor in ihiji, correct?

Posted by Bruno Napoli on January 4, 2018

First thing first: Congratulations to ihiji. They certainly deserved like no others to be acquired after all this hard work they did for years now. Hope you the best. Good job guys, I’m proud of you.

This said, I liked your latest newsletter Julie, you made an important point about RMR. Giving the remote supervision service for free will give once again, another bad excuse to Custom Installers for not charging Service and Maintenance monthly or yearly. Remote supervision was one of the latest feature that was pushing custom installers to value their business, to value their labor, in short: “To become Home Technology Professional”.

Pakedge and Snap totally gave up long time ago to charge a monthly fee, but could afford it as it is not their only business and they make money on many other products. Now that ihiji is part of the C4 group, they will also follow this trend. Maybe the word is too big, so please excuse me in advance if it is not appropriate, but I feel like it’s a little “sabotage” for our industry to give remote supervision fees for free.

I can talk with a genuine experience here: Giving the remote supervision fee for free will NOT make custom installer buy remote supervision. Even if you give the hardware for free, custom installers will NOT install it and use it. It’s only because Custom Installers do not know how to charge yearly/monthly service & maintenance that they don’t know how to sell remote supervision. It simply does not fit into actual Custom Installer business model: What we charged for the installation is also good for years of free service, maintenance, warranty… Until we go out of business and let our clients alone…

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on January 3, 2018

We all should take our hats off for Stuart, Mike, and the Ihiji crew.  For about a decade they’ve pioneered a new concept in this industry rooted in operational efficiency and value-add services to the homeowner.  It’s hard for any of us in the CEDIA industry to say that we haven’t been positively affected by Ihiji and the category they created.  I’m excited to see what they all do next, particularly with Control4’s support.

What a great start to 2018!

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on January 3, 2018

We all should take our hats off for Stuart, Mike, and the Ihiji crew.  For about a decade they’ve pioneered a new concept in this industry rooted in operational efficiency and value-add services to the homeowner.  It’s hard for any of us in the CEDIA industry to say that we haven’t been positively affected by Ihiji and the category they created.  I’m excited to see what they all do next, particularly with Control4’s support.

What a great start to 2018!

Posted by Bruno Napoli on January 4, 2018

First thing first: Congratulations to ihiji. They certainly deserved like no others to be acquired after all this hard work they did for years now. Hope you the best. Good job guys, I’m proud of you.

This said, I liked your latest newsletter Julie, you made an important point about RMR. Giving the remote supervision service for free will give once again, another bad excuse to Custom Installers for not charging Service and Maintenance monthly or yearly. Remote supervision was one of the latest feature that was pushing custom installers to value their business, to value their labor, in short: “To become Home Technology Professional”.

Pakedge and Snap totally gave up long time ago to charge a monthly fee, but could afford it as it is not their only business and they make money on many other products. Now that ihiji is part of the C4 group, they will also follow this trend. Maybe the word is too big, so please excuse me in advance if it is not appropriate, but I feel like it’s a little “sabotage” for our industry to give remote supervision fees for free.

I can talk with a genuine experience here: Giving the remote supervision fee for free will NOT make custom installer buy remote supervision. Even if you give the hardware for free, custom installers will NOT install it and use it. It’s only because Custom Installers do not know how to charge yearly/monthly service & maintenance that they don’t know how to sell remote supervision. It simply does not fit into actual Custom Installer business model: What we charged for the installation is also good for years of free service, maintenance, warranty… Until we go out of business and let our clients alone…

Posted by mgrady on January 4, 2018

Joey for full disclosure you were an investor in ihiji, correct?

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on January 4, 2018

@mgrday, I was an investor and have been on their board for the past three years (and haven’t been shy about it - I’ve mentioned it many times in various articles and blog posts, etc).  With this acquisition I am completely disconnected from Ihiji (except that we still buy the product/services).

Was there something I said that have you concern for a conflict of interest?  Certainly not giving myself props - all credit due to Stuart, Mike, and the Ihiji crew!

Posted by mgrady on January 4, 2018

All good Joey. If I was an investor I wouldn’t be the first one to give props as it wouldn’t seem genuine.  Best of luck!

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on January 4, 2018

100% genuine.  No other bone in my body. smile

Posted by JW-TIH on January 6, 2018

Actually @mgrady, if I was an investor in ihiji, the second thing I’d do was give props everywhere possible.  Right after depositing that check… raspberry

Posted by Harald Steindl on January 8, 2018

I totally disagree with a lot of people out there thinking that nixing the montly fees is a good idea.
Where does the cashflow come from when C4 does not charge for their service of keeping the servers up and running?
Is there any change in the terms of service?
When C4 is NOT charging but the integrator chooses to do so, there is the potential of a huge legal problem.
By not taking any money C4 can hardly be forced to keep a service up or to fulfill a certain availability/SLA/etc.
On the other hand the integrator takes hard bucks from the enduser for a service he/she has no control over whatsoever. I would be very interested in how C4 is going to educate their dealers about this potential dilemma.
Besides this, congrats to Ihiji!