We Need More Exciting Residential Offerings
I realize I may be late to the party, but I finally made the leap from using videotapes for recording television programs to digital recordings. It’s unusual for me to take so long to embrace new technology as I am somewhat of a gadget/electronics freak but VCRs worked fairly well and the tapes made it easy to playback on machines in different rooms of my house. But after a recent stay with relatives who had a DVR and getting my first chance to really experience the interface and take in the full measure of its capabilities, I knew I had to explore upgrading my own home video equipment.
My timing was actually good because I found out my satellite provider, Dish Network, had not two weeks prior launched the industry’s first digital recording system in which all you need do is attach almost any external hard drive to the company’s high definition receiver, pay a $39.99 activation fee and presto – a full-featured digital recording system! I already had the receiver, so I just picked up a 320GB hard drive for less than $100 and away I went. After getting this thing up and running and having had some time to use it, all I can say is WOW! It is truly as quantum leap in ease of use (idiot-proof scheduling/recording), features (pausing live programming) and superior quality (it records in HD). This device allows you to completely tailor television to your own schedule and lifestyle.
How ironic that all these years I have been writing about and promoting digital recording in the security industry but had waited so long to adopt it into my personal life (cost had been a barrier, as well as and not wanting to be obligated to a monthly subscription to TiVo). However, as great as this digital recorder is, it is still trumped by videotapes in one important way. The digital recordings can only be played back through that receiver and hard drive; they cannot be transferred to any other devices/systems nor converted into any other formats. That is an area the powers that be definitely need to address and resolve.
So why did I bring this to your attention? And, no, I am not trying to sell satellite TV or DVRs! What I would like to sell you on is the innovation, value proposition and easy customer experience (although I did have to call multiple times to successfully get the thing activated!) encapsulated within my story of digital recording awakening. Imagine a security device for the home where you could just add on something widely sold in stores and greatly enhance the functionality of your system. Imagine still that it would be easy for end users to install, reasonably priced and lead them to place much more value on their security system. Imagine even further that it elevates the appreciation and profile of the security provider while bringing in more revenues (perhaps even RMR) and opens the door to additional selling opportunities.
Suddenly, when times are tough like they are right now, homeowners might cut other expenses before ditching security monitoring (on existing systems) or aborting the purchase of a new system. Some manufacturers might argue that such advanced security-related systems for the home are already available but installation and monitoring companies are not taking advantage of them. Well then maybe they don’t work as well as you think, are missing some key features, are not properly supported on the marketing side, are too expensive, etc.
We as an industry, from manufacturers to distributors to installation and monitoring companies, need to get it together and figure out how to offer systems and solutions as electrifying, indispensable, user-friendly, convenient and affordable as my DVR example if we are going to substantially expand residential market penetration and become less prone to the whims of the economy. Are you up to the challenge?
As always, thanks for reading.
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