This past week at SXSW, I asked my Uber driver about his day job (they all seem to have one). He told me his main business is as a home security dealer/installer, and he went on to tell me all the systems he installs use Alarm.com as the cloud/interactive services backend.
"Business is good", he said.
Given what I know about Alarm.com's growth, I wasn't all that surprised. In fact, I figured my Uber driver was one of thousands of independent dealers who seem to be doing a brisk business in home security and interactive services.
And I'm not the only one's who's noticed. Icontrol, the company behind smart home and security cloud platforms for companies like Comcast and ADT, seems to have noticed as well, which is why it announced the launch today of Icontrol One, a new product product tailored specifically for independent dealers ranging from small (like moonlighting Uber drivers) to medium and large independent home security dealers.
For those of you familiar with Icontrol, you probably know that the company's business has historically focused primarily on two main customer segments: large cable companies and large home security service providers like ADT. For cable companies, they provided the home security and smart home interactive services backend platform, while for companies like ADT they provided a platform to layer in interactive services on top of core home security monitoring.
And while the brute force marketing on the part of cableco's and ADT have resulted in a growing subscriber base for Icontrol, the company's missed out on any growth in the independent dealer market enjoyed by the likes of Alarm.com, Telguard and Napco's iBridge.
That changes today.
It makes sense for Icontrol to go this direction for a couple reasons. First, the upgrade market alone is a huge opportunity, as many consumers need to upgrade their existing home security panels due to the 2G sunset. Greg Roberts, Icontrol's VP of Marketing, told me last week they see a huge opportunity simply from converting existing smart home panels to 3G and interactive services. It may be hard to believe, but up until just a couple years ago many home security panels were installed with 2G cellular radios and no interactive or smart home service integration. Over the next few years, 4 million of these panels will need to be upgraded.
Roberts said dealers can work with existing panels by swapping out the radio module with the Icontrol One module. He said the Icontrol One module will work with 2Gig, DSC and Interlogix panels.
Second it presents an entirely new customer category for Icontrol, allowing them to target those home security dealers that are behind a significant percentage of the home security installations. This could help the company with what I would call its "big customer" problem. In other words, big customers like Comcast and ADT are great until they aren't customers anymore. Not to say the these or the other big companies are ready to part ways with Icontrol, but it's pretty widely known in the industry that the cable companies are always evaluating their backend platform providers, and ADT looks like it is increasingly bringing technology in-house.
Which brings to the question of how Icontrol will play in the DIY channel, which is continuing to be an ever-more important part of the business. Roberts said they are continuing to evaluate DIY installs for home security, and while he said he doesn't know if Icontrol One will also be a part of a broader DIY install model, they are aware of how important that growing part of the market is (as is evidenced by their purchase of the Piper system last year).