UControl unveils new dealer program
AUSTIN, Texas--UControl didn't set out to create a dealer program, "It was driven by dealers who approached us," said Jason Domangue, director of marketing for the Austin-based company. On Jan. 15, uControl launched a new home security system called uControl Link that upgrades existing installed alarm systems and communicates over three redundant connections: broadband, cellular and traditional phone lines, and essentially makes the AMPS problem disappear. "We may just solve the AMPS issue by shipping a box," said Domangue.
Initially, uControl was planning to sell directly to end-users (see "UControl hopes to succeed with self-install" in the November 2006 Security Systems News), but so many dealers have contacted the company it has taken a different tack. "There was such an outcry that we decided it would be silly not to use the tried and true," said Domangue. In order to make the program enticing for dealers, "We've gone and changed our retail pricing, and made it more dealer-friendly so they don't get priced out of the market. We want to cultivate that channel. It's causing us to rethink our whole business model," he said.
The uControl Link, which connects to existing alarm panels, is a self-install that is shipped to the customer in the mail. The unit costs from $99.95 to $124.95, and monitoring fees run from $24.95 to $32.95. "We think the current security vendors do a pretty good job of making keypads and sensors, the core functionality is there," said Johnson. Home owners can monitor and control their homes remotely from any computer, PDA or cell phone.
Jim Johnson, chief executive officer and founder of uControl, listed VoIP as one of the drivers for development of the uControl Link. In addition, "you have the whole movement to a broadband connection with people using it in their homes. You've got the incompatibilities between VoIP and [many existing] alarm systems, which we address." Johnson also mentioned that consumers are now more tech savvy, and able to consider alternatives to traditional services: "People are buying cable TV from the phone company, some are getting their phone service from Vonage."
Johnson said uControl didn't anticipate the tremendous interest from dealers, but there seemed to be two motivators: "First of all, dealers like the ability to give their customers more control over their systems, and the second thing is the AMPS sunset issue. Now they can migrate off the AMPS network by just shipping our box."
Domangue said, "The customer also gets an upgraded feature set, so it's a win-win situation." About the dealer program, he added, "We're taking all comers. There will be a volume control, and it is first come, first served. I just want people to be patient because there's a lot of demand."