Control & Automation

Neeo Founder Raphael Oberholzer Responds to Mixed ‘Reviews’ of Remote Control

Neeo's Oberholzer takes issue with CE Pro's coverage of software glitches reported by Kickstarter backers who waited 2.5 years for the much-ballyhooed remote control and home-automation system.

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8 Comments
Posted by Pesche on November 30, 2017

I really like how the NEEO founder is responding to this. He stays cool and spot on with absolutely everything he is saying. The custom installation industry truly needs such innovative products. I have received my NEEO about a month ago. It’s a beautiful product. Could be from Apple in terms of quality and presentation. Best unboxing experience ever. I’m convinced NEEO will become a big name. The product is working perfectly in my home theatre. The software which is a big discussion here actually impressed me the most. I was able to add all my devices with ease and find remarkable what you can do with recipe logic. I’m comparing to the failed Savant remote, Crestron and RTI here. The CEPro review certainly doesn’t do justice to this incredible product. On the other hand I see they are praising a new Crestron remote that has not even started shipping. Crestron does not have a great track record in terms of quality remotes. In my experiece the only brand out there that provided really reliable remotes was RTI. But those are clunky and expensive plastic devices. I’m writing this here because I’m a true fan of the NEEO product but also of their transparent and fast communication and support. I understand why some traditional custom installation reacts dealers react with fear. They are right. Things change.

Posted by JamesIceland on November 30, 2017

I have had a very different experience to Pesche, especially in dealing with Raphael. Since posting my first impressions on Planet NEEO last week he has written me a 2,700 word email whilst also taking time to write this 1,500 word response on CEPro. His response to any perceived “negativity” is to immediately go after whoever wrote it. He labelled the original write up on CEPro as “terrible” in his email to me and stated he had issues with Julie. He claimed that my write up was influenced by it (it wasn’t).

When I subsequently explained I was uncomfortable with his emails, he has labelled me as “negative”, “super negative” and said that “after having read about your expectation I doubt - even when we fix stuff you will be fully happy.” This was in response to me saying I was particularly uncomfortable being asked to keep it confidential that he had asked me to only post positively on Planet NEEO and to take future comments I had to him personally. I will not sure the reasons why he asked me to do this however. He has also shut down another post I made asking for time frames for the updates stating that they will not give any ETA’s on them. His last email was a rambling mess talking about “wars” and “funerals”.

In his response above and in his emails to me he has not mentioned anything about the high expectations he set and the disappointment some have felt with their experience. Instead the above response contains the same mix of buzz words we have been hearing for 2.5 years. He even says it “just works” again when it doesn’t for a number of people, me included. If I sound like I’m sick of it it’s because I am. I was one of NEEO’s most ardent supporters and was highly active in the community. His behaviour following my constructive and positively received first impressions write up is nothing short of unprofessional.

I would prefer that he took the time to address the genuine issues that people are continuing to post about (check Planet NEEO and Kickstarter) and respectfully leave the job of handling customer service issues, responses to reviews he doesn’t like and any other communications to a professional PR individual.

In the mean time my remote remains unused on a daily basis waiting for the promised updates that “I will like” but that have no ETA’s.

Posted by JamesIceland on November 30, 2017

Sorry, correction to the above:

“I will not share the reasons why he asked me to do this however.”

Posted by Julie Jacobson on November 30, 2017

Thank you both for your comments. There had been an error in the story. The section block-quoted came from a comment on Planet Neeo. I added that correction (previously it looked like it was a quote from me).

I know Neeo has been very hard at work, and harder still now that people have the product in their hands and are asking for fixes at a furious pace. It looks like there has been some quick turn-around on many of the issues.

It is very difficult for start-ups who have sunk their money and souls into a project to stomach negativity about their first baby. Crushing, actually. It was with a very heavy heart that I exposed negative criticism about such a highly passionate group. But I thought the lesson was a VERY IMPORTANT one for all of us.

Be careful about setting high expectations—higher and higher and higher over 2.5 years of development. All too often, entrepreneurs feel the need to inflate promises with each delay in order to appease anxious backers.

By so doing, they raise expectations while losing focus on the fundamentals—a toxic combination.

The founder of Dasmon tells me the indiegogo backers on an earlier project unwittingly killed the project by lambasting his company for the delays. The principals relented, and shipped the product before they knew it was ready. Expectant backers balked at the early software glitches and the company sank pretty quickly after that.

https://www.cepro.com/article/damson_s_series_first_dolby_atmos_wireless_surround_system_multiroom_audio/news

It’s a delicate balance, I know. Big companies like Apple can afford software glitches on new releases because they have a rabid fan base and deep pockets. Start-ups don’t have that luxury. The first product needs to nail the fundamentals, as the company rolls out flourishes after that ... all while keeping user expectations in check along the way.

We are ALL ROOTING FOR NEEO and wishing them the greatest of success!

Posted by JamesIceland on November 30, 2017

Julie you are correct and of course we are all hoping that NEEO will become a success. Backers waited 2.5 years for the device after all. The backers are a passionate bunch and that is why people are posting up their experiences. As an active backer I thought that it would be good to finally give my first impressions. I was as constructive as I could be in my feedback pointing out the pros and cons that I had experienced. As can be seen in the response given to your user impressions article, Raphael elects to take action himself to try and rectify things. For me it started by singling out my experience as being more of an outlier and ignoring the main issue I had which was that the reality vs expectations were so great. I then received an email which surprised me greatly with its content. I even shared it with some close friends and family to ensure I was not misinterpreting things. It simply wasn’t professional and his subsequent follow ups were even worse. You could argue that at least he took the time to respond personally to me and yes it’s true we had personal contact during the 2.5 years which I had appreciated. But this was something else and made for very uncomfortable reading. I wish he had just focused on the issues highlighted and perhaps given some indication of a time frame for the next software updates. That’s all that I and perhaps others are wanting. I will continue to contribute to Planet NEEO with my feedback in the hope it help them get everything sorted but I have sadly lost a lot of the respect I had for Raphael as a result of his emails this week.

Posted by Markw on November 30, 2017

I’m a very active crowdfunding backer and investor. Over 50 projects backed. NEEO is the most useful and ready product that I have supported on any of the platforms. The entire family is using it daily. My second favourite is Canary. There will always be haters and lovers. The best brand cause disscussions.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on November 30, 2017

That’s great news, Markw. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by SKoolD on December 1, 2017

History repeats itself.  I’m often amazed at how unrealistic many people in this industry view the control space.  Making a slick, advanced, auto-discovery path to controlling everyone else’s stuff is undoubtedly the hardest endeavor any company can take on in this space.  Making your own product work within its own ecosystem is a breeze compared to this task.  I applaud NEEO for striving to tackle this.  BUT, pressure from investors and the public urge manufacturers to push product before it’s “ready.” In this ever-evolving world of consumer/IoT technology with clouds, APIs, NDAs on top of traditional IR and 232 interfaces, the state of readiness is a dodgy concept that can make or break a prospective product like this.  Savant learned the hard way but has seemingly rebounded by being able to fall back on its flagship platform.  Perhaps there’s a reason only the big control companies have been able to sustain the idea of controlling other people’s stuff.  You can’t assume to solve everything these companies have developed over decades in the short span of a couple years without burning through some serious cash.  Much like with the Savant remote, expectations are high and the public is antsy.  Hopefully it’s not too late for NEEO.

8 Comments
Posted by SKoolD on December 1, 2017

History repeats itself.  I’m often amazed at how unrealistic many people in this industry view the control space.  Making a slick, advanced, auto-discovery path to controlling everyone else’s stuff is undoubtedly the hardest endeavor any company can take on in this space.  Making your own product work within its own ecosystem is a breeze compared to this task.  I applaud NEEO for striving to tackle this.  BUT, pressure from investors and the public urge manufacturers to push product before it’s “ready.” In this ever-evolving world of consumer/IoT technology with clouds, APIs, NDAs on top of traditional IR and 232 interfaces, the state of readiness is a dodgy concept that can make or break a prospective product like this.  Savant learned the hard way but has seemingly rebounded by being able to fall back on its flagship platform.  Perhaps there’s a reason only the big control companies have been able to sustain the idea of controlling other people’s stuff.  You can’t assume to solve everything these companies have developed over decades in the short span of a couple years without burning through some serious cash.  Much like with the Savant remote, expectations are high and the public is antsy.  Hopefully it’s not too late for NEEO.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on November 30, 2017

That’s great news, Markw. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Markw on November 30, 2017

I’m a very active crowdfunding backer and investor. Over 50 projects backed. NEEO is the most useful and ready product that I have supported on any of the platforms. The entire family is using it daily. My second favourite is Canary. There will always be haters and lovers. The best brand cause disscussions.

Posted by JamesIceland on November 30, 2017

Julie you are correct and of course we are all hoping that NEEO will become a success. Backers waited 2.5 years for the device after all. The backers are a passionate bunch and that is why people are posting up their experiences. As an active backer I thought that it would be good to finally give my first impressions. I was as constructive as I could be in my feedback pointing out the pros and cons that I had experienced. As can be seen in the response given to your user impressions article, Raphael elects to take action himself to try and rectify things. For me it started by singling out my experience as being more of an outlier and ignoring the main issue I had which was that the reality vs expectations were so great. I then received an email which surprised me greatly with its content. I even shared it with some close friends and family to ensure I was not misinterpreting things. It simply wasn’t professional and his subsequent follow ups were even worse. You could argue that at least he took the time to respond personally to me and yes it’s true we had personal contact during the 2.5 years which I had appreciated. But this was something else and made for very uncomfortable reading. I wish he had just focused on the issues highlighted and perhaps given some indication of a time frame for the next software updates. That’s all that I and perhaps others are wanting. I will continue to contribute to Planet NEEO with my feedback in the hope it help them get everything sorted but I have sadly lost a lot of the respect I had for Raphael as a result of his emails this week.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on November 30, 2017

Thank you both for your comments. There had been an error in the story. The section block-quoted came from a comment on Planet Neeo. I added that correction (previously it looked like it was a quote from me).

I know Neeo has been very hard at work, and harder still now that people have the product in their hands and are asking for fixes at a furious pace. It looks like there has been some quick turn-around on many of the issues.

It is very difficult for start-ups who have sunk their money and souls into a project to stomach negativity about their first baby. Crushing, actually. It was with a very heavy heart that I exposed negative criticism about such a highly passionate group. But I thought the lesson was a VERY IMPORTANT one for all of us.

Be careful about setting high expectations—higher and higher and higher over 2.5 years of development. All too often, entrepreneurs feel the need to inflate promises with each delay in order to appease anxious backers.

By so doing, they raise expectations while losing focus on the fundamentals—a toxic combination.

The founder of Dasmon tells me the indiegogo backers on an earlier project unwittingly killed the project by lambasting his company for the delays. The principals relented, and shipped the product before they knew it was ready. Expectant backers balked at the early software glitches and the company sank pretty quickly after that.

https://www.cepro.com/article/damson_s_series_first_dolby_atmos_wireless_surround_system_multiroom_audio/news

It’s a delicate balance, I know. Big companies like Apple can afford software glitches on new releases because they have a rabid fan base and deep pockets. Start-ups don’t have that luxury. The first product needs to nail the fundamentals, as the company rolls out flourishes after that ... all while keeping user expectations in check along the way.

We are ALL ROOTING FOR NEEO and wishing them the greatest of success!

Posted by JamesIceland on November 30, 2017

Sorry, correction to the above:

“I will not share the reasons why he asked me to do this however.”

Posted by JamesIceland on November 30, 2017

I have had a very different experience to Pesche, especially in dealing with Raphael. Since posting my first impressions on Planet NEEO last week he has written me a 2,700 word email whilst also taking time to write this 1,500 word response on CEPro. His response to any perceived “negativity” is to immediately go after whoever wrote it. He labelled the original write up on CEPro as “terrible” in his email to me and stated he had issues with Julie. He claimed that my write up was influenced by it (it wasn’t).

When I subsequently explained I was uncomfortable with his emails, he has labelled me as “negative”, “super negative” and said that “after having read about your expectation I doubt - even when we fix stuff you will be fully happy.” This was in response to me saying I was particularly uncomfortable being asked to keep it confidential that he had asked me to only post positively on Planet NEEO and to take future comments I had to him personally. I will not sure the reasons why he asked me to do this however. He has also shut down another post I made asking for time frames for the updates stating that they will not give any ETA’s on them. His last email was a rambling mess talking about “wars” and “funerals”.

In his response above and in his emails to me he has not mentioned anything about the high expectations he set and the disappointment some have felt with their experience. Instead the above response contains the same mix of buzz words we have been hearing for 2.5 years. He even says it “just works” again when it doesn’t for a number of people, me included. If I sound like I’m sick of it it’s because I am. I was one of NEEO’s most ardent supporters and was highly active in the community. His behaviour following my constructive and positively received first impressions write up is nothing short of unprofessional.

I would prefer that he took the time to address the genuine issues that people are continuing to post about (check Planet NEEO and Kickstarter) and respectfully leave the job of handling customer service issues, responses to reviews he doesn’t like and any other communications to a professional PR individual.

In the mean time my remote remains unused on a daily basis waiting for the promised updates that “I will like” but that have no ETA’s.

Posted by Pesche on November 30, 2017

I really like how the NEEO founder is responding to this. He stays cool and spot on with absolutely everything he is saying. The custom installation industry truly needs such innovative products. I have received my NEEO about a month ago. It’s a beautiful product. Could be from Apple in terms of quality and presentation. Best unboxing experience ever. I’m convinced NEEO will become a big name. The product is working perfectly in my home theatre. The software which is a big discussion here actually impressed me the most. I was able to add all my devices with ease and find remarkable what you can do with recipe logic. I’m comparing to the failed Savant remote, Crestron and RTI here. The CEPro review certainly doesn’t do justice to this incredible product. On the other hand I see they are praising a new Crestron remote that has not even started shipping. Crestron does not have a great track record in terms of quality remotes. In my experiece the only brand out there that provided really reliable remotes was RTI. But those are clunky and expensive plastic devices. I’m writing this here because I’m a true fan of the NEEO product but also of their transparent and fast communication and support. I understand why some traditional custom installation reacts dealers react with fear. They are right. Things change.