Will RPM kill the programmer.
ajish.raju Posts: 185
Before RPM, there was Visual Architect but now it seems this will be better than the cost of having a programmer. I know having a plug and play solution for programming will make the client's life very happy but is RPM up to the challenge of doing complex functions,etc. Is RPM the final nail that seals the coffin for programming jobs.
I know a lot of people on the forum lay a lot of blame on AMX decisions for the loss of the Resi market. But, I think really what's gong on is the product has run its course under the model of Integrator/programmer designed systems. As is expected in all these kinds of things: companies have figured out how to do it cheaper and more reliably and sell it for pennies on our dollars.
How can anyone, no matter how good their product/service compete with someone who is arguably doing the same thing for 5-10% the cost of what you can do it for?
There are companies out there right now developing iPad apps that do the very same thing as an AMX master as long as we're trying to control an IP device - which is most of them nowadays)
The best we can do is adapt and move with the flow. That's what I'm trying to do anyways. So far, so good...
I'm waiting to see what Apple is going to announce at the WWDC2015, supposedly HomeKit is going to get pushed now with actual devices. (Basically control everything through separate apps, connected to a single database. Check out the WWDC2014 for more information on HomeKit) In addition they are apparently planning to bring out a new AppleTV. If it's going to be a big improvement it will become even harder to push a system like Kaleidescape for example.
I do agree that the dead of the AMX-only programmer-breed is near. (Same goes for Crestron only programmers, though they are desperately trying to get S# to fill that gap)
I don't see a programmer's job here where I'm at going away, especially when we're trying to get our RMS Enterprise server off the ground. But I do see it going away in general. When drag-and-drop GUI frameworks are "good enough" they get adopted even if they still suck compared to a properly programmed system.
I do want to leverage RPM for simple room solutions, if I can. Unfortunately trying to get a system working with RPM has not gone well so far. Driver release delays, device binding problems, defective Massio keypad units... like I said, it hasn't gone well.
I think the one issue you are ignoring is the fact that for a Savant system at least, the programming dollars are spent on hardware. Savant has to pay programmers as well, so they have to charge more for the hardware. For many systems, the price of a Savant system and a programmed AMX system are very similar, although you get a custom solution rather than a generic one. For most higher end residences, a custom solution is just generally better for the user. I personally hate the UI of the current Savant and C4 systems so to me its not something I would enjoy using every day.
But that's kind of my point. The coding is done by the manufacturer, not the integrator. Savant equipment is expensive, yes, but not a whole lot more expensive than AMX, and that is more than made up by the fact that you don't need touch panels, and their iOS app is free - as opposed to the head-frmly-up-the-hinder-parts pricing model AMX has forced on TPControl. SO integrators can charge much less for the same job, as they don't have to spend days or even weeks of labor costs writing code.
There's also the problem of upcoming devices that are much cheaper consumer-level electronics that can do more much faster than the current AMX systems. (Raspberry PI, Arduino. Those are the cheaper solutions) With more and more accessories being made for these systems and things like HomeKit being developed by Apple, they are closing in fast. It might be a few years still, but I'm afraid our control systems will end up obsolete because they can't (or won't) keep up.
To sketch an example:
- Thermostats (IP Controllable) ~?50,- API
- Dimmable LED lights (controllable over wifi) ~?30,- for the controller and + ~?20,- per light. APP + API
- GC IP2IR iTach for 3 IR ports. ~?95,- (Much cheaper alternatives are available, but these work reliably from my experience) (You can get cheap Chinese electronics like these for less than ?5,-)
As more and more devices get good IP control these will become less useful and needed.
- Raspberry PI 2 Model B as your central processor (ARMv7 processor and 1GB Ram, these things are faster than what we have available (1.9 DMIPS / MHz)) ~?35,-
Combine things like I mentioned above with a well written app and you have a decent home control system in your hands. I don't want to compare this to AMX directly, just wanted to make clear it doesn't have to be expensive.
Now these aren't devices I would use in professional systems by any stretch, however it goes to show that these systems are closing in and doing it fast. See https://www.athom.com/ for example. (Control via Voice)
I feel the key to continue working in this industry is based on what you define as "working in this industry." If you are basically set up to design/build residential control systems - the market is moving downward and you'll have to ride that train to the station. What galls most of us is that the investment in time/sweat/tears in learning the craft of AMX software engineering and UX development leaves a pretty big hole in our hearts. There is no joy in "programming" a Control4 or Savant system. There's really not much skill required either.
My business is 99% commercial/military/industrial/educational. Even the Resi I do is pretty much "under the hood" I'm not dealing with any home owners. I can say that there is still a lot of green grass in this field. These systems have a different set of challenges. But, it's still a lot like Resi used to be: We programmers are the only route to get to where the client wants to be. And even better still, it's an environment where the client is a little more used to paying us for our work.
I can see that eventually, even this will run out as technology catches up. For myself, it's a matter of striking a balance of what is fun and exciting and what is paying the bills. I try to keep them as close as possible. But, I have felt the pressure over the last decade to bend so as not to break. I run two businesses of completely different worlds. (Programming AV and the Music Industry) That's the only way I can diversify and still stay sane. And in both cases - the industries have seen rapid and fundamental changes. I have had to force myself to allow those changes to drive my business and learn not to fight them so hard.
There will always be the enthusiasts who cobble together a control system from parts and scraps, but for homeowners investing a few hundred thousand into a control system they don't want to deal with that risk. They want a major player who will be around in 10 years when its time to update things. Personally I don't think we have to worry about that, its the behemoths like Apple/Google that might make a dent into things, although its difficult. Microsoft had no luck at it. Where's Windows Media Center nowadays? Its not even going to be included with Windows 10, even if you paid for it. I hear Apple has cancelled plans to make an iTV as well.
I don't really follow. You don't need touch panels in an AMX system either, and there is a decent remote solution as well, as compared to Savant. As well, my clients aren't balking at the TPC fee at all. We sell C4, Savant, URC and AMX, and in any system larger than a one room theater, the AV gear costs dwarf the cost of the control system so it isn't really much of an issue. What is an issue though, is when the client has some of their own old gear they love for which there is no driver, or want some custom look or function that a C4/Savant configuration can't do. I have my issues with AMX as well, and think more could be done for resi dealers to compete, but I hesitate to claim other companies are all that much better.
This gets at a point I made in my previous post about the Resi client vs. the Commercial client. One of the most annoying trends I saw in the years prior to chucking the whole Resi thing was how the clients looked at the bid. Early on the client wasn't so concerned abut the minutia of a bid. Their main concern was "do I have all the stuff I wanted" and "Is the stuff I see here of good quality"
But in those last years I'd quite often get a reply from the client that was essentially a line-by-line re-bid where they would pick it apart with online Best Buy replacement equipment and "My brother knows an Electrical firm that installs structured wiring solutions and he owes me a favor" kind of stuff. I Qualified this type of customer right out of my life. But, soon I found that most if not all my customers were getting "Qualified right out of my life"
I would try a few on occasion but they always ended up being huge time sucks where I'd lose my shirt.
Vinings point is well taken in that clients nowadays seem to be going through bids and line-iteming us to death. labor is the worst. And it's also the only real place we can go to cover our expenses to get a job done.