Jump to content
bnet

Driver Development Business Model

Recommended Posts

So with all the talk about supported drivers, unsupported drivers, official APIs, unofficial APIs, companies merging or going out of business, it occurs to me that there is an alternative driver development/sales business model that would mitigate the medium to long-term risk of purchasing drivers.  To date, we are based on a lump-sum, everything up-front purchase model.  You buy the driver and hope that everything that driver touches internally (control4, hardware, etc) and externally (cloud services, APIs, etc)  doesn't change, break or get discontinued.  If it does and your lucky, you upgrade.  If your unlucky, and there is no upgrade path - you are stuck or you buy another driver to replace the old one (if one exists).

The alternative driver business model looks like a subscription.  Technically, I'm not sure if it is a subscription, a lease, limited license, whatever.  No matter, the concept is the same: you pay a recurring fee to use the driver.  And you pay it as long as you want to use the driver.  Driver breaks, a better one comes along, you no longer use/need it - stop the subscription.  Other side of the coin is that if you stop paying, the driver stop working.

As a consumer/home owner, the incentives are all in the right place - build a good product, keep it current and I'll stick with you.  It keeps developers honest by giving you an out with limited sunk cost.

As a driver developer, it is more work.  We have all built some form of payment infrastructure - we would need another.  Our driver architecture would need updated to handle the on/off nature of subscriptions.  What is the market price of a driver subscription anyway? $1, $2, $5, $10 per month? per quarter? annually?

Technically speaking, this model has some challenges - all are, I believe, solvable.  The infrastructure can be built out, friction-less, recurring transaction services exists.  The challenge is one of mindset and adoption.

So, TECHNICAL ASPECTS ASIDE, thoughts on the driver subscription business model?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there was an easy way for a homeowner to see and manage their installed drivers and said subscriptions, maybe.

As of now, there is not and any form of trying to implement it would be a disaster.

It would obviously be up to each installer's preference, one time fee and free is easier to quote during install and easier to leave be.

It would honestly be hard to have a customer pay monthly subscriptions to many different pay sites for drivers.

Not to mention, it does not guarantee a driver developer doesn't just disappear or get bought out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally hate the subscription model as a customer because it seems like everyone is going that way and I am always paying bills every month for every service under the sun.  In fact, in the last 1-2 months I’ve started to track said subscriptions and cancelled a bunch.  

I will admit you bring up valid points about on going service and you can turn off the driver if you do not need it/support goes south/it breaks.   For now I tend to buy drivers from 1-2 outfits that have been in business for a while, ones I can reach out to directly and who have answered questions quickly on this forum and offer good support.  

It is all a mental state - if a driver were $2/month vs $150 sure it may be cheaper to do $2/month but I think I’d get annoyed getting another bill every month.  It is just easier to write a check, install it, and move on.  If I know I have to keep paying (Even if cheaper) mentally it becomes “a thing”.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No one wants to pay for anything. We can easily enable licenses on subscriptions and have even discussed it many times for drivers that cost us to support (servers etc). 
Yup. Couldn't agree more Kevin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I personally hate the subscription model as a customer because it seems like everyone is going that way and I am always paying bills every month for every service under the sun.  In fact, in the last 1-2 months I’ve started to track said subscriptions and cancelled a bunch.  
I will admit you bring up valid points about on going service and you can turn off the driver if you do not need it/support goes south/it breaks.   For now I tend to buy drivers from 1-2 outfits that have been in business for a while, ones I can reach out to directly and who have answered questions quickly on this forum and offer good support.  
It is all a mental state - if a driver were $2/month vs $150 sure it may be cheaper to do $2/month but I think I’d get annoyed getting another bill every month.  It is just easier to write a check, install it, and move on.  If I know I have to keep paying (Even if cheaper) mentally it becomes “a thing”.
 

Apple pushes the subscription model and it’s a model I detest. I don’t mind paying a high price for and if you pay higher you get access to updates. However on the flip side IMHO the home owner is already paying a fair price for the gear and a dealer to install. That’s where service agreements come in I would suspect. Again all in my humble opinion


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m curious about how dealers handle installing and charging for 3rd party drivers? Do you even explain the cost of the driver to the customer and where that money goes? Or do you cook it into your cost to install it?

It seems to me most homeowners are just confused by the process and therefor reluctant to want to buy from a 3rd party. 

So I can control 99% of my house, but to connect to one random camera, or sprinkler system, or a different dimmer I have to pay someone else? They barely understand what Control4 does as a company, now you have to explain why you want them to set up a subscription with some random dude. 

It’s not a bad idea to people who understand the game like here on this forum. I think it’s just a confusing concept to the lay person. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in the day it was explained to me using the cell phone/App Store analogy - my dealer said you get a phone and it has some free apps on it already, plus there is a store where you can get more free ones, but some apps have a 1 time fee.  Being a dealer model he was clear it was not a public market place and I’d go through him, etc.  But that was the basic analogy.  It was “slightly” confusing even to me as a techie at the time because THERE WAS a c4 “App Store” on the touch screens for widgets.  So I had to separate the two which after having the system for about 48 hours was easy to do.  When talking design it was a little clunky.  But now without the 4store I think the phone/App Store analogy should be clear to most consumers.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, maybe the more *confusing* part is trying to explain why Control4 provides drivers/integration for some products and relies on paid 3rd party developers for other. 

Also seems likely to me that, as mentioned above, it’s just people not wanting to pay. In reality it’s not that hard of a concept to grasp. 

Sorry, seem to be a little off topic now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Brownbatsbreath said:

Yeah, maybe the more *confusing* part is trying to explain why Control4 provides drivers/integration for some products and relies on paid 3rd party developers for other. 

Also seems likely to me that, as mentioned above, it’s just people not wanting to pay. In reality it’s not that hard of a concept to grasp. 

Sorry, seem to be a little off topic now. 

Maybe they should create a subscription to “control4 driver services” and ac4 could do a lot more. Hey pay x amt per year get all the c4 drivers you want. Pay for 5 years and you own those drivers. I think it could work. I would be interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe they should create a subscription to “control4 driver services” and ac4 could do a lot more. Hey pay x amt per year get all the c4 drivers you want. Pay for 5 years and you own those drivers. I think it could work. I would be interested.
Who is they in your example?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They is C4. I think people who aren't as in the know would be more apt to pay a subscription to C4 if C4 developed more drivers and had a more robust library; as well as, maintained them. Have a model where if a driver was leased for 5 years then you own it. Similar to cell phones, you pay off the total cost over time but in this instance maybe up the cost a couple $ a month to add in development coverage/profit and encourage C4 to maintain it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Neo1738 said:

They is C4. I think people who aren't as in the know would be more apt to pay a subscription to C4 if C4 developed more drivers and had a more robust library; as well as, maintained them. Have a model where if a driver was leased for 5 years then you own it. Similar to cell phones, you pay off the total cost over time but in this instance maybe up the cost a couple $ a month to add in development coverage/profit and encourage C4 to maintain it. 

My goodness... I have sat with my dealer while he has installed drivers... and “they” have a “free” library of over 10,000 drivers... that sounds fairly robust to me.

The bigger challenge for an end user is knowing what drivers are in this massive library and when new supercool drivers are added.  At the end of the day, that is one of the big pluses of this forum.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, South Africa C4 user said:

My goodness... I have sat with my dealer while he has installed drivers... and “they” have a “free” library of over 10,000 drivers... that sounds fairly robust to me.

The bigger challenge for an end user is knowing what drivers are in this massive library and when new supercool drivers are added.  At the end of the day, that is one of the big pluses of this forum.  

not sure if this is maintained well or heavily advertised but:

https://drivers.control4.com/solr/drivers/browse?&fq=certified%3A"true"&q=&fq=certified:"true"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am no expert and I am certainly not trying to offend anyone’s business model, but I couldn’t agree more that we (the customer) need an improved driver model and that the entire C4 echo system (C4, Dealers, Developers) could benefit from the same.

I am no expert on how it works, but I would personally like the Apple model.  All developers pay C4 a fee to review and certify their drivers and then make them available to all dealers and us customers at whatever fee the developer sets - which will also need to include C4’s fee.  The dealer would get their fee from the install and any subsequent programming services.

All drivers would then be controlled and verified by C4 and all would be downloaded from the C4 controlled database and all billing (whether free, monthly, or one-time fee) would be automatic through C4 similar to how it is with Apple.  Developers could then offer a basic driver for free, and charge for upgrade features.

C4, dealers and developers should love this model as it could improve distribution and recurring revenue.  It may even encourage more advance driver development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...