Just over a year since Control4 acquired Ihiji, the firm has confirmed that it has bought Switzerland-based NEEO, the creators of a smart home remote control distributed by One AV in the UK.
The End Of NEEO?
NEEO has been offered through a combination of direct-to-consumer sales and, in the UK at least, through OneAV. Control4 has confirmed that the former has ceased immediately and, although unconfirmed, it’s likely that OneAV will also stop selling NEEO products. We’ve contacted OneAV to confirm, but NEEO has stated that no more products will be shipped, with those who currently own the product only being guaranteed 24 months of support. That means in two years those who own the NEEO could experience a similar feeling to that felt by owners of Revolv; the smart home hub that was acquired by Nest in 2014 and had its servers shutdown two years later, completely bricking the device.
While NEEO devices will cease to be sold, Control4 has promised to offer an upgrade path to existing owners. What that upgrade path looks like remains to be seen, but we’re hoping that Control4 will leverage the modern design of the NEEO remote sooner rather than later on its own products. Those with NEEO’s remotes will be able to take advantage of one last feature update, however, as version 0.53.8 has been released to celebrate the acquisition. This includes a new dark UI, unlimited Multi-Brain support, more customisation, and some ‘awesome’ Easter-eggs.
How NEEO Began
NEEO initially launched as a Kickstarter in 2015, where it was backed by more than 6,000 people raising a total of $1,558,280. While many Kickstarter projects have gone on to disappoint the market, that wasn’t the case with NEEO, which has been praised for its clean UI, great SDK and ease of use. The sleek design of the product was also seen as a breath of fresh air in the universal remote control market.
Control4 is no stranger to creating remotes, but it’s fair to say that the company’s offering looks dated in comparison to what’s on offer from NEEO. That’s why it comes as no surprise that Control4 is using the acquisition to develop new touch panels, remote controls, keypads, and similar devices which are a little more modern. It’s an important part of Control4’s strategy, as the firm will be increasingly facing competition from the large consumer electronic firms, such as Amazon and Google – with the company’s Senior Vice President of Products & Services, Charlie Kindel, having come from the former.
NEEO’s founder Raphael Oberholzer will report directly to Kindel in order to create Control4’s next generation of products. “Raphael built a world-class customer-centric product team with proven strengths in industrial design, product development, and user experience. We’re keen to add NEEO’s unique expertise and award-winning Swiss design ethic to enhance our plans for reimagining the way homeowners interact with their Control4 systems,” noted Martin Plaehn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Control4.
“The NEEO acquisition is a talent and technology investment that will yield beautifully-designed and deeply integrated products in the future. We’re excited to welcome the NEEO team to the Control4 family.”