This week, Control4 announced that they had acquired NEEO, a startup smart-remote control company. I spent some time talking to Mark Feinberg, a Control4 dealer I know well, and gathered his thoughts on what he hopes this might mean for Control4 and his business.
NEEO came on the scene four years ago as a Kickstarter-funded DIY remote control. Last year they were on the CEDIA floor, showing the NEEO-PRO, a remote that would work with Control4 when launched. That remote never made it to market, but now, with the Control4 acquisition, the hope among dealers is that it will come soon, maybe as soon as CEDIA 2019. However, with Control4’s policy of not discussing product development, we are all left to speculate, which is exactly what Mark and I did the other night.
The NEEO remote is what Control4 dealers have been clamoring for over the past few years — an upscale, graphical remote with touchscreen. The existing SR260 is a workhorse remote and is extremely capable, but it can look dated and limited to clients with a text-only display and very little customization options. In fact, Mark has two clients who have remotes from other companies that are on their last legs and are ready for upgrades/replacements, but they will not consider a remote without a GUI. He has been unable to move them to the Control4 platform because they want a handheld remote with a graphic interface and do not want to use a phone or tablet as their main TV watching interface.
He is now quite hopeful that by the end of the year he may have a solution for them and will be able to convert them to Control4 and not only replace their remotes, but also introduce them to the smart home with automated lighting, HVAC, and window treatments, resulting significant sales for his business.
The NEEO-PRO was a minimalist remote with a large screen, a D-Pad, and handful of hard buttons. While most dealers I know prefer many more hard buttons, including a 10-key number pad, many dealers and consumers are interested in the minimalist approach. It will be extremely interesting to see which direction Control4 takes the product.
In essence, it appears the hope among Control4’s existing dealer base is a sexier remote, maybe some voice control built into it to match the voice remotes from cable companies, Apple, and Roku, and possibly advanced GUI improvement across the line, with more flexibility and customization options.
Let’s hope we find out soon!