February 16, 2010
| by Tom LeBlanc
Since Apple unveiled its iPad, custom electronics professionals have had questions, especially to what could be a potentially major application of the new device.
Will the 9.7-inch screen tablet impact home automation?
Will it benefit Savant, an Apple Proprietary Solutions Provider, which already leverages Apple’s popularity with its Rosie control app?
Savant’s responses: yes and yes.
“When we look back on this two years from now, we’re going to say this was a watershed event, not just for Savant but for the industry in general,” says Savant president Jim Carroll. He says consumers will see the iPad as having “the same or similar touch hardware” to other control offerings.
“This is a fundamentally different business model that we all have to adapt to,” Carroll says. “I think Savant is in position No. 1 in terms of how we can apply it, how we can use it and how it fits into our total solution relative to the legacy guys.”
Carroll draws parallels to how computer and video products have been commoditized.
“We sell a lot of hardware. We sell it to support our software — but it’s really about the software features and capabilities,” he says.
Carroll predicts the iPad, which will range between $499 and $829, will become the relatively inexpensive hardware platform for home control software.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs said most existing iPhone apps work with the iPad. Carroll confirms that Savant’s Rosie home control app works on the iPad.
Savant, however, will soon launch a new app certified specifically for the iPad. “We can’t give a lot of specifics,” Carroll says. “We’re going to do some pretty cool things and take advantage of the additional real estate.”
Carroll sees home automation becoming more affordable, with custom electronics pros adjusting business models to incorporate devices like iPad as a controller.
Apple’s iPad, which is slated to begin shipping toward the end of March, has its limitations. Readers have registered several concerns, including:
- Lack of Flash support
- Lack of USB ports
- 16-, 32- and 64-GB of storage isn’t enough
“Think about the iPhone when it first came out,” Carroll says. “They were saying the same things. There’s not enough memory. I can’t put my whole [music] library on it. The network size, the speed, the connectivity — all those things have grown exponentially since the release of the phone. You’re going to see the same thing [with the iPad].”
Carroll contends that Apple is adept at “understanding what customers really need beyond what they’re asking for,” and the iPad is another example. “It’s not a netbook, a phone or a wireless tablet,” he says. “They’ve created a new category.”