CQC Moving to Open Source

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Is there life beyond Cinemar?
Is there life beyond Cinemar?
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CQC Moving to Open Source

Postby MurrayW » Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:53 am


I am sure you are aware that CQC has decided to move to open source because they could not make a go of it commercially. http://www.charmedquark.com/vb_forum/showthread.php?t=9304

This could be either good news or bad news for MainLobby.
    If CQC was struggling to make a living off of DIY home automation software and given the current economic climate, is MainLobby doing well enough to sustain itself?
    With CQC now being free (with reduced support) how do you think this will impact MainLobby sales and your ability to stay in business going forward?

It looks like I made the correct choice many years ago when going with MainLobby over CQC!

Thanks for your insight,


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Re: CQC Moving to Open Source

Postby CinemarDave » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:45 pm

It's sad any time you see a product someone puts years of blood sweat and tears into come to and end. We share the same passion that Dean has for his product in ours and know how hard it must have been to come to his decision. Julie hit the nail on the head in her CEPro editorial. You have to convince the dealers and system integrators that you are a real company with real products. Having a great product is only a small part of the equation. You have to have top notch technical support and bullet proof hardware and software.

Customer service is key and we pride ourselves on our tech support and white glove service. A common idiom is that you have to put in your 10,000 hours to become successful. Everyone here at Cinemar is well beyond their 10,000 hour quota's and there's no slowing down. I think that you can see by our new line of servers and touch screens that we are in it for the long run. Our software is as stable and robust as anything else out there. We are continually moving more and more to an out-of-the-box solution but with the ability to change it if you need to. Some things have been in development for over a year now that will illustrate this.

We are constantly developing new solutions and evolving products. We cater to the DIYer but embrace our system integrators. It's a difficult and demanding line to walk. We try hard. We are not at a point where we need armed guards to help us make deposits, but we can hope. When you speak we listen. Sometimes you don't see the results as quickly as you like but that's a function of hours in the day and squeaky wheels. Don't stop letting us know what you want.

As for CQC and open source. Only time will tell. I'm not sure open source will reduce the complexity of the product without a major overhaul from Dean since he will still have to approve any changes and still have the final say in what stays and goes. One of the biggest obstacles in this business is that there is no one solution when it comes to automating your home. Everyone's home is different with different requirements. You cannot build a one size fits all product. Meaning, try as you must, there will always be a need for customization after you install the software. A dedicated DIYer that is familiar with programming will probably be able to make it work for his home. But there is little probability that it is going to work in mine. So I think the open source route will be a long hard tow. Everything evolves. We'll watch what happens.

While we've taken our fair share of criticism for charging for various plugins rather than following CQC's pricing model, it's a fact of life that there's always new products coming out that require a driver to be developed. Which takes time and money. We recoup those investments by passing the costs onto our customers through our ala carte pricing structure. Cinemar would prefer not to develop drivers and focus more on the core engine (MLServer & MainLobby), but until the industry has a standard protocol across all manufacturers, we are forced to devote resources to driver development. But that's what automation is all about, controlling various devices and software. This is one good reason Cinemar continues to stay profitable and in business. Our dealers are also big helpers in funding many drivers and core modules.

We think CQC's approach vs Cinemar's is a right brain vs. left brain scenario. Different approaches to arriving at a great looking interface that controls everything in the home. While some users find our system easier, others may not agree. We wish Dean the best and perhaps our paths will cross again. Who knows? Maybe someday he'll be on our side of the brain helping us out.

For those who have purchased CQC in the past, we're offering a Competitive Upgrade Program to transition them to Cinemar at a great price. We understand that Dean was unable to provide refunds for recent purchases, so hopefully this will ease the pain.

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Re: CQC Moving to Open Source

Postby ricks » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:32 am

Although I never purchased CQC I am well familiar with Dean's reputation across the many forums I visit. He appears to be a class act with a lot of talent and despite the current job market I am sure he will land well. I am also sure that he is not done with HA.

As for Dave's message I am pleased to actually hear someone from Cinemar comment on the HA business in general. Seeing a post with insight is unusual since most posts are plug-in specific techno-speak. I sure would like to hear more from Dave and Mario regarding their thoughts, concerns and direction even if it's just general comments. It's refreshing and gives Cinemar customers a sense that there really is a personality on the other end of those technical posts.

From my vantage point 1000 miles high there are 3 potentially strong markets for the CQC's, HomeSeers and Cinemar's of the world but they all have targeted only one. Mercedes doesn't sell only one model of automobile. Until HA realizes what Mercedes realized 100 years ago I'm afraid there will be more career adjustments in the future. That's too bad.

Somewhere I saw a scene from the TV show "The Big Bang Theory" where one of the guys is so impressed with the fact that he could turn on a light from his computer. Of course the sexy girl across the hall couldn't understand why he was so excited when all she had to do was flip the switch. HA people tend to be like the guy. HA customers are like the girl across the hall. The first one to understand the 3 markets and learn to speak "the girl's" language will be the winner.

Just my thoughts from 1000 miles high.

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Re: CQC Moving to Open Source

Postby mcascio » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:14 pm

To add to Dave's comments, with smaller companies, you not only buy into the product, but you also buy into the people behind the product. In most cases, they wear many hats. Not only doing the programming, but also day-to-day business decisions. To Cinemar's credit, we've been able to withstand some of the toughest economic conditions we've ever seen and still remain profitable. April 2010 was our 2nd highest month in sales in over two years. Something as simple as setting pricing and licensing stucture can make or break a company. Having good business sense is key and with everything so open these days, communicating on the forums has become even more important. While we don't spend nearly as much time in the forums outside Cinemar as we used to, we keep pretty busy answering questions here and providing remote support through our white glove service. We probably need to reconnect with our customers through those outside forums though again. Both myself and Dave are committed to delivering the best possible product we can with the limited resources we have. We certainly respect and listen to everyone's comments here. One thing that has diminished over the years is our users contributing and pushing people to our product. CQC had some very vocal posters on the forums that steered everyone to their product.

I'm personally excited about some of the things we've been working on. The vision is there, we just need that MLClone plugin debugged so we can duplicate ourselves.
Mario Cascio
Cinemar, Inc.

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