I’ll admit it: The iPad is one of the frickin’ coolest gadgets to come around in a while. And even though I know – from a strictly intellectual perspective – that it is really just a $500 toy (not a phone, not practical as a computer, no video chatting) I don’t care. Look at it! It has a huge, shiny screen, and you can finger stroke your way through cool page transitions. And the apps! Ohhh, the apps!
And the apps! Ohhh, the apps!
Emotionally, I just want one soooo bad. I feel like owning an iPad would instantly make me cooler. It would get me past the ropes into Paris Hilton-only areas of clubs. Suddenly my clothes would fit better. Oh, and that bulge in my pants? Yeah, it’s an iPad. And it is happy to see you!”
But, as a custom installer, I’m a little scared of the iPad too. I mean how am I possibly supposed to sell a touchscreen controller EVER again?
As a Crestron and Control4 and ELAN dealer, when I show someone a touchscreen and tell them it is $1,500-plus they are barely able to contain a grimace filled with shock and contempt. And, the controller that I show them is a good bit smaller, with lower resolution, doesn’t do a tenth of what the iPad does and costs at least twice as much. “So, how many can I put you down for?”
Now, I understand that lower priced touchscreens open the automation market to new customers, and that’s great. Heck, my arms are wide open for a giant bro-hug to anything that brings in new customers. But, touchscreens have always been a significant revenue stream for our channel, and it isn’t like we sold just one, either.
Usually a job was rife with screens, and those screens needed installing and programming to boot. When you take touchscreens out of the equation, what is really left on most jobs? A few black boxes that don’t have a ton of margin and some cabling?
With the apps, they also have taken away a majority of the programming. Again, this is great for the customer, but not so great if you are a programmer getting laid off because you have been suddenly made obsolete by an “add to cart” click.
Also, our channel can’t even sell the iPad. And, really, even if we could, I bet that it offers a profit margin on par with a 32-inch LCD (which is to say none) so it’s hard to really complain about this too much.
The real problem is that if you suggest that your client go and buy an iPad – at say a Best Buy or something – you run the risk of them impulse buying something while they’re there – cables, mounts, Blu-ray, TV – that would have otherwise been your sale. Thanks again, iPad!
So… I love you iPad. I just hope that loving you doesn’t put me out of business.