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Battle of The OS3s

How to keep brand/version confusion away from your customers.

I don’t know about your customers, but ours are getting confused about OS3. Crestron announced an update from OS2 to OS3 in late 2018. I have been talking to clients about Crestron Home OS3 since that time, showing them the videos Crestron has created to demo the interface in some of our initial meetings. Then in May 2019, Control4 launched the largest update to their software and also called it OS 3. So the two biggest players in the home automation marketplace have software with the same name.

We started to get calls from customers — some confused, some angry.  They Googled OS3 to either revisit it themselves or to show it to their spouse, family member, or friend and they ended up getting Control4 OS. And it looked nothing like what I had shown them a few weeks prior. Some were angry because the clean, minimalistic, Apple-esque look of Crestron Home OS is what sold them on the system. At first I was very confused and asked them to send me screen shots, which allowed me to quickly de-escalate the situation. Now, I ask some basic questions to ensure they are looking at the right thing.

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I was discussing this with Mark Feinberg, who owns Home Theater Advisors and is a die-hard Control4 dealer. I was upset that Control4 would come out with the same exact name as Crestron was using and that they were trying to usurp a naming convention Crestron had been using for a couple of years, with OS2. Mark pointed out that Control4 has been using 1.x.x and 2.x.x since its inception in 2008 and that 3.x.x was the natural progression — so naming it OS 3 is a pretty easy call from a marketing and branding perspective as it fits with the history of the platform. He has a point, but I am still a little frustrated whenever a confused client calls.

We continued to bat this around and realized it was our fault. We were being too technical — we got sucked into the version numbers. How many iPhone users know which version of iOS they are using?  They know they are using iOS and most likely know which phone they have. That’s about it. That changed my perspective and my talking points. I now just refer to it as Crestron Home. The version number doesn’t matter as much. If they ask or if it comes up, I just say version 3. I want them looking up Crestron Home, not OS3.

I am actually surprised both companies did this. If our clients are confused, I’m sure many are. How many prospective customers have looked up OS3, intending to find Crestron and found Control4 and they took their business to Control4?  And vice-versa — how many Control4 customers searched OS3, stumbled upon Crestron and liked that look and feel more?

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Either way, we have both learned from this. We need to always strive to keep the discussions out of technical details that are too deep for the customer with whom we are talking.  Talk about the brand, not about the version of the operating system. No one remembers the operating system version, but they all know what phone they use and what control system runs their home.