Control4 Wants Home Automation for the Masses
"If you're going to sell to the rich, you're going to live with the masses. If you're going to sell to the masses, you've got a much better shot at living with the rich."
So says Control4 CEO Will West, detailing the company's plan for tapping into the growth of the $400 million, new construction/"rich people" home automation market and broadening it into a $40 billion new and retrofit market with a wider demographic.
West, Chief Technology Officer Eric Smith and Vice President of Marketing Mark Morgan co-founded Control4 in March 2003. West and Smith founded PHAST in 1995, developing one of the early protocols for residential automation control. PHAST was sold to AMX in 1997. Bound by a non-compete agreement, West and Smith founded the broadband business service provider STSN in 1998. West, Smith and STSN veteran Morgan remain owners in STSN. Their experience there—managing broadband service via an IP-based network, with disparate devices entering and leaving the network (usually in a hotel or office building)—laid the groundwork for Control4.
"Whereas PHAST was proprietary and focused on rich people building homes this year, Control4 is very much based in IP, open-based standards," West says. "We couldn't figure out why people weren't incorporating more new technologies—technologies that were cheaper, better, faster—into the home automation environment."
The ability to retrofit an existing home with wireless (Wi-Fi or ZigBee) home automation products, West contends, will grow the existing $400 million home automation market a hundredfold. "Make it easy to install, affordable and retrofit-able, and the market is 100 times bigger than that," he says.
At 2004 CEDIA EXPO, Control4 introduced roughly 30 home automation products. The Control4 tech pitch? Scalable, easy-to-use home automation technology that can be employed in both new and existing construction and is capable of controlling legacy equipment.