Tyson and Grant,
In full disclosure, I work for an “INSTEON Partner Company”. We developed Artemis, a block of code that runs on an AMX Control System. Artemis acts as a general bridge from AMX to INSTEON, as well as a central lighting controller for INSTEON dimmers/switches. So in that context, here are my thoughts:
INSTEON’s market share may be bigger than you think.
We often think of the Home Automation market in the Client/Contractor model, where a client hires a contractor to install products. I don’t think INSTEON sells much that way, because dealer margins on INSTEON products are razor thin. In fact, direct-to-customer promotions on the SmartHome.com site often undercut the dealer cost on a product! Since dealer’s can’t make money on the hardware and the going labor rates alone don’t cover the cost of doing business, dealers gravitate towards other lines that offer more margin.
However, there are a ton of do-it-yourselfers (DIY) that love INSTEON. The low cost and introductory packages attract them with a few small products. Then, as their skill and confidence grows, they keep expanding the system. Since they truly do it themselves, this works well for their weekend project schedule, as well as their budgets.
From our perspective, we’ve had to change the way we handle this market. Please excuse the generalities and crudeness of the client profile - I’m just trying to make sure we understand the typical client.
In our typical AMX programming business, we serve the high-end of the automation market. Our end-client is reasonably wealthy - let’s profile it as having at least $5M-$10M in the bank. These people are accustomed to hiring skilled workers to handle the design and implementation.
When we started working with INSTEON, we started working with people squarely in the middle class – let’s say the family income is around $75-$175K. Since they are DIY, they often have general electronic and computer skills, but lack the experience and perspective to smoothly navigate automation products. We’ve had to change the way we do things for this market so we can economically give the customer the support they need.
Generally, I ask the DIY customer to attend the INSTEON training class at SmartHome so they learn the basics about how the INSTEON technology works. Then I have a 1-2 hour training session with them on how to use our system. (Our training can take place at our office, or through a live online session.) That gives them the grounding they need, and it still leaves me with some time to help them through a few quirks in their home as they come up.
Overall, this has worked out well, and the folks at SmartHome have been supportive. The INSTEON technology has proven to be very reliable, and our Artemis controller really brings it all together. We have installations we did 3-4 years ago that are still working like a champ!