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Wed, Jun 13, 2018 7:32 PM

A detailed word about Simplisafe vs. Ring Alarm

Why Ring Alarm matters:

The home security market is much different today than it was about ten years ago when Simplisafe (SS) entered the market. At that time, SS was ahead of the game by offering easy, simple, no-contract, DIY home security solutions at a reasonable and understandable price. However, as the residential smart home market exploded in recent years, SS seemed to stand by and watch (from a consumer perspective) as other companies avidly worked to integrate their product offerings into whole-home solutions, and now it seems that SS is trying to play catch-up. But with the Ring Alarm system currently taking pre-orders, it may be too late for SS to take hold of a large portion of the home security market share that it easily could have owned.

Sadly, as a SS customer, sifting through the SS forums and experiencing the "no upgrade' fiasco for the SS3 system tells me that SS missed out on major opportunities to keep winning customers (both existing ones and new ones--because both matter). Like most consumers nowadays, the SS customer base cares most about price (the lower the better), simplicity (i.e., no contracts and DIY), and products that work (they do at least what the companies says they will do). In my opinion, at this time in the market, I see Ring as SS's biggest competitor. So this post will mostly compare these products as well as convey how SS can possibly win back the faith of their existing customer while drawing in new customers.

Subscription pricing:

The Ring Alarm system will cost $10/month or $100/year for professional security monitoring and unlimited cameras, which can all be viewed and accessed in the Ring app. SS offers professional monitoring and app access for $24.99/month (~$300/year). EDIT: Per SS forum users, SS changed their camera subscription to include up to 5 cameras for free in SS Interactive Plan.

What does SS offer that makes it at least $200/year better than Ring Alarm? And it can't just be aesthetics (as great as SS looks). Ring Alarm looks decent enough to save $200/year and also get more outdoor security features.

Equipment cost:

SS/Ring

Starter Kit: $229/$199 (keypad, base station, entry sensor, motion sensor, base station range extender [extender for Ring only])
Keypad: $69.99/$50
Base Station: N/A (price typically embedded in bundle kit; don't need multiple)
Entry Sensor: $14.99/$20
Motion Sensor: $29.99/$30
Alarm Range Extender: None/$25
Extra Siren: $59.99/$30
Smoke Alarm: $29.99 (SS)
CO Alarm: $49.99 (SS)
Smoke/CO Alarm: $40 (Ring)
Alarm Smoke/CO Listener: $35 (Ring)
Water Sensor: $19.99 (SS)
Flood/Freeze Sensor: $35 (Ring)
Temperature Sensor: $29.99/None
Glassbreak Sensor: $34.99/None
Panic Button: $19.99/None
Key Fob: $24.99/None

SS has more components, but Ring seems to be trying to undercut in price on the items that matter most. What makes SS components better than Ring's components? Why does that matter? Is SS now becoming the new "high-end' security system because of Ring's prices? That may rub some people the wrong way. Also, Ring will likely work with third-party products in the future via z-wave/zigbee protocols, and Amazon has the capability to make this happen very easily.

Suggested solutions:

I realize some of these suggestions are in the works, but I just want to lay out some thoughts about them.

Outdoor Camera
I think the outdoor camera could be a game-changer for SS, just like the doorbell was for Ring. An excellent outdoor camera can cause non-SS subscribers to get into the SS ecosystem, and therein draw them into the SS home security offering. Here are a few outdoor camera items to consider:

1) Ring's night vision is only average, so have excellent night vision. If you really want to make a dent in the market, make the night vision in color, and tell everyone about it.

2) Ring doesn't (and can't) record 24/7, so have an option for 24/7 recording. I don't prefer this because it uses too much internet and can clog up my Wi-Fi, but others really want this feature (just look at Nest's success). Like Arlo has done, this can be an added feature that costs extra.

3) Ring doesn't have local video recording storage, so have both local storage and cloud storage. Consumers want the option for both, and if you allow both options concurrently, that'd be huge.

4) The most significant feature (in my opinion) is including cellular capabilities and a solar and/or battery back-up. Consider this: When the electricity goes out, so does the Wi-Fi. And when the Wi-Fi goes out, so do the Ring cameras (along with most other wireless cameras). If SS can harness the same technology from the base station into an affordable outdoor camera that can continue recording and be viewed remotely even during power outages, this would be highly desirable. Although Arlo Go and others have done this, they are expensive and have no ties to whole-home security. Many coastal residents evacuate during hurricanes. It'd be comforting to monitor your property in such an instance even after power goes out--this is true home security and monitoring. The solar and/or battery back-up would keep it powered.

5) SS customers have wanted an outdoor camera for over a year. Ring has several outdoor cameras with more integrations. It's easy to see why Ring is more compelling. It's a need that they are meeting.

6) Get consumers excited by showing us pictures and telling us about the planned features. Ring does a superb job of promoting and showcasing their upcoming products.

7) Think potential, not profits. This camera should be seen as (A) an additional security feature for SS customers and (B) an entrance ramp for new SS security system customers. Let it work without a SS security system. But let it work better with a SS security system. Don't try to make huge profits with this product. Make it affordable enough to compete with the camera market, but give it more features. Take the best from all the existing cameras and bring it all together in one excellent outdoor security camera. This should make some noise in a crowded market.

Homekit (HK)
Ring promised HK integration over two years ago, and customers are upset that they haven't delivered. Many Ring customers are looking for alternatives right now, so strike while the iron is hot--don't let Abode, and especially, don't let Ring win this race.

SS customers have been asking for this for over a year. iOS users want a solid HK security system with cameras and security alerts for both indoor and outdoor activity. SS must now rush to be the go-to HK security system and then market themselves in that way. iOS users are more than ready. I know it's "under active development,' but consumers need a timeline and/or frequent updates. Technology is evolving too rapidly for vague answers. Plus we're impatient. iOS users are also very brand loyal, value aesthetics, and are willing to pay a little more to have simplicity. If an iOS user can get all of their home automations in the Home app, they will likely do what they can to make it happen--including pay a little more.

Lower Subscription Prices
Provide annual discounts and a lower monthly rate. If SS doesn't do this, then an explanation is needed for why Ring can do the same thing for much cheaper. Why is SS more expensive? Why does it matter? This goes back to the "high-end' discussion. If this doesn't change, Dave Ramsey and his frugal followers might be jumping ship for the cheaper alternative.

Offer Upgrades for to SS3
It goes without saying that many SS subs are upset with SS and are looking for other options. Don't make it easy to switch. Think about it: If SS customers have to buy a new system to get the new features, then they will look at competitors, too. Don't give customers a reason to look elsewhere. Just make them happy while they are still customers. If SS is concerned about losing money, remember it's cheaper and easier to keep an existing customer than get a new customer.

Market to Young Families
Young parents want to protect their family. SS likely knows this, but Ring actually markets like they know this. I don't see YouTube ads for SS, but I do for Ring. And Ring makes themselves seem fresh, relevant, and social, whereas SS seems less personal and more, well, high-end. Also, young parents have older parents that they want to take care of. So by marketing to younger parents who understand the pricing and technology of modern security systems, SS will also be indirectly marketing to older parents who are highly influenced by their kids.

Closing remarks:

I'm not sure what to expect from this post. I'm just a SS customer who is open to switching to Ring Alarm if SS doesn't do something quickly. And I don't think I'm alone. I just want SS to be aware of my thoughts before I make any changes (not that I'm any different than any other SS customer). I'm looking to get a more updated and "smarter' security system, and I've been denied an upgrade deal by SS. Thus, if I'm going to pay for a new system, I'm going to shop around. I wish SS the best as they move forward, and I hope they do something soon to keep us existing SS customers around. Thanks for your time.

1.2K Messages

4年前

Obviously I'm an SS fanboy, (in case anyone was still wondering) but the ring alarm is brand new.  I wouldnt jump ship until some reviews are available.  Right now there are some un-answered questions, what is the range?  how reliable are the pieces?  Whats real world battery life?  How good is their dispatch center?  Etc Etc.  I'm fine staying where I am because SS just works.  I've never replaced a single component on SS2 or SS3.  I still have my original camera.  I've never had any of the issues that some here have had, except maybe long hold times when calling support, but what company doesnt have that these days?

If anything, this will prompt SS to stay competitive which IMO is a great thing.

33 Messages

Well said. I fully agree that the Ring Alarm is new and yet to present real-world results, and therefore, conclusions can't truly be made about the product. And I also agree that SS has worked well  as an alarm system--though, I've had 2-3 false alarms over the past 12 months due to motion sensor malfunctions.

Considering that Ring Alarm includes a range extender in their starter kit, I assume this means they may (at least) have some range issues in large or multiple story homes. From my experience and reading about others' experiences, the existing Ring product components have worked well. Combining that with the fact that the Ring Alarm was affiliated with ADT engineering (which is who had a lawsuit against them) provides a promising foundation for their system.

Like you said, competition is great, and I'm eager to see how SS will respond. SS has experience over Ring, so hopefully SS uses it to remain on top in this growing battle for the smart home. Thanks for the reply!

Captain

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4.7K Messages

4年前

Add me to the SS fan boy category but not so much to call them on the carpet when they fall short. Feature for feature, with performance, capability and pricing considerations, SS provides the most capable, price effective solution in the industry, in my humble opinion.  Video doorbell, outside cams and the lineup will be complete.  (Yes, I don't care about Apple Homekit but it will eventually come; play with your Apple Watch in the interim. :-))

33 Messages

@Captain11

I totally agree that SS provides a solid alarm service. I'm not trying to shame them, because I can't--they do alarm service well. I'm referring more to a whole-home ecosystem with smart integrations, which is the big thing right now, and is the current direction of the market. I just feel that there's much more competition in today's market (Ring being the biggest, in my opinion), and if SS doesn't act soon, they will lose traction.

Ring is an security ecosystem and SS is a security service. That's a big deal, just look at Apple (whether we love them or hate them, lol). It seems like SS is heading to more of an ecosystem with the new products being discussed, but I feel that SS needs to roll out excellent products that are distinct from the competition in order to become an ecosystem.

I think SS can remain an security service if they choose, but they should integrate with Apple Homekit (HK) because no other security system like SS is integrated with HK. Honeywell is no match for SS, and Abode Iota seems like they have to earn more trust from consumers before they earn a top seat in the home security market. If SS can become the best HK security system, they will position themselves to be the go-to home security service for over 85 million iPhone users in America (granted, not all of them are adults). Add in the good looks of SS, and that could make SS a force to be reckoned with. If I were SS, I'd go all-in on HK, then pick back up on the cameras and doorbells later (but keep them in the front of everyone's mind, though!).

Thanks for the reply!

708 Messages

4年前

@djchavar - I have knocked SS probably more than I have praised them.  Customer is never happy!  With that and the great or what could be a great search function for this site, there was a posting by a user, since SS didn't bother to tell anyone, SS rolled a number of cameras into the $25/mo monitoring fee.  This doesn't negate the fact SS is more expensive than Ring is proposing, but the delta isn't as large as indicated with cameras.  I don't have camera(s) yet, so maybe the user's post was wrong...

ADDED (after fully reading original post):
Item 4: battery backup for router/modem resolves or at least minimizes issue with power outage
Item 7: I had a camera for a short period of time (was part of initial package I purchased that I returned for a different package) - initial testing showed it worked independent of the SS system, since I was able to see video without have SS activated
Lower Subscription Prices: SS does offer one month free with annual subscription - again not published by SS, just posted by user(s)
Upgrade to SS3: I was able to return my initial SS2 system for the SS3 system due to the 60 return policy, so I can't in good conscience comment on upgrade policy
Marketing: no argument about marketing method or lack thereof.  Somewhat related: my biggest complaint (at this point) is what appears to be SS attempt to thwart users from helping each other and trying to force everyone call SS support and wait "forever" on the the phone by not providing a reasonable user experience on this site

33 Messages

@General_KAOS

Thanks for letting me know about updated camera pricing! I was not aware of it. That's great to know. I'll edit my original post.

Regarding #4: I was referring to having solar/battery back-up on the upcoming outdoor camera. I think it would be great to have the option for a wired camera (most stable power), then have a solar/battery back-up for power outages. My thought would be for it to operate that same way as the base station: wired power with battery back-up, and also Wi-Fi connectivity with cellular back-up.

Regarding #7: I didn't realize the current cameras can operate without a SS subscription. That's awesome, and surely the outdoor camera will work the same way. I think that should be a way to get people into the SS ecosystem.

Regarding Lower Subscription Prices: I also didn't know about saving $24.99/year with an annual subscription. I'm glad SS does this. However, that still puts Ring Alarm at $175 cheaper per year. This will be okay if SS can tell us why they cost more (e.g., experience, dispatch center, reliability, etc.). The first thing many consumers often look at is price. But if SS can tell us why they cost more, they will be okay. It's more of a marketing thing, I think.

Regarding Upgrade to SS3: I'm glad you were able to upgrade your system. I tried and wasn't able to because I was beyond the 60-day period. I think something needs to be offered, such as with cell phones, because many people are looking for a smarter system than SS1/SS2. That's how consumers think about technology nowadays, in my opinion. From a business perspective, I wouldn't want to give a reason for existing customers to look elsewhere for a service, but by not offering upgrades, SS is doing that.

Great points, and thanks for your reply!

Advocate

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2.2K Messages

4年前

SS does not charge for cameras if you have the $24.99 plan.

1) I don't know if you CAN have night vision in color.  Night vision is actually Infra-red, which is "one color" by definition.

2) If you record 24/7, how can you find the segment of actual interest?  You would  need a "video find" feature which would be non-trivial.  Better would be a "triggered" recording feature, which would create a video file for each "triggering" event'.  Or at least a "trigger flag" inserted into the 24/7 recording.

33 Messages

@sevensiamesecats

Thanks for letting me know about the camera service cost! I wasn't aware of this, when I wrote my original post.

1) I probably should've better worded my statement, because you're right about IR and night vision; but, color night vision is possible. Technically, night vision would be off but the camera would work with the light on the camera to record in color. Supposedly, Ring already started rolling out this feature. But I take the things they say with a grain of salt. If you're interested, check out the YouTube channel called Lifehackster. He has some videos about this, and he is one of the best channels that reviews home security cameras.

2) Great point, and sweet idea about "triggered flags." I think motion alerts are what makes this work. You get a phone/email notification when there's motion, so it acts as a time stamp for you to look at. But instead of having just 3 seconds of pre-roll and then whenever the recording stops, you get everything. I personally do not prefer this feature for a wireless camera because it eats up too much home Wi-Fi. But this feature is one of the main reasons why people prefer Nest over Ring. If SS could do both in their outdoor camera, they would draw attention from both types of consumers. I just think it would be a great feature, because Arlo is the only one (that I'm aware of) that does both.

Thanks for the reply!

72 Messages

4年前

Thanks for the breakdown and comparisons! I thought it was an interesting read. Will be very interesting to see how Simplisafe responds to this new DIY competition. Only a couple weeks until release date.

33 Messages

@ajp39

Thanks for taking the time to read! I'm with you that it'll be interesting to see SS's response. I wonder, though, if they'll wait until reviews come in about the Ring Alarm before they make any changes. There's always the possibility that it could flop. That would help SS greatly. However, they should still be working on a plan in case the Ring Alarm is a huge success. Either way, it'll be interesting. Thanks again.

Captain

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4.7K Messages

4年前

@ajp39, a few words on your post and, Sr mgt at SS:

Simplisafe responds to market conditions like any other company; however, when they do they don't say anything about it, even to their advantage, which drives customers nuts.

An example:  Camera subscriptions use to be $5 bucks a unit.  Arlo, Blink and others enter the market.  SS, in its usual stealth mode, drops the charges, so with the 14.99 monitoring plan you get 1 video camera subscription included for free, and on the 24.99 up to 4. (I think but can't look it up because SS took away the search tool.

SS: Hello?? If you do something that benefits customers, do you think you could tell us in the future?

33 Messages

@Captain11

Very true! I'm a prime example of this. I didn't know about the SS camera subscription price. But after my post, I was quickly corrected. That's a big deal, and you're spot on, SS should speak up about such changes. These things help customer retention and become competitive advantages in a very crowded market.

I second your request to SS.

5 Messages

4年前

I'm not understanding how they can do monitoring for $8.30 a month ($100/year). Is it an introductory price to hook you and then they raise the price? No one else even comes close to that price.

1.2K Messages

4年前

@jm92120

Its Amazon.  I recently had something over nighted to me for 7 dollars.

Advocate

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2.2K Messages

4年前

I'll bet Ring does monitoring over Wi-Fi, which is a "free connection" for them.  SS uses a cell phone line (primary for SS2, backup for SS3) and that "phone line service" costs them something..

8 Messages

4年前

@seven

Ring Protect Plus
24/7 Professional Monitoring
Pay only $10 a month for professional monitoring with cellular backup, plus unlimited video recording for all your Ring Doorbells and Cameras. It's one small price for big-time protection.
‚Ä¢     No long-term contracts
‚Ä¢     No moving costs
‚Ä¢     No cancellation fees

So them not paying for phone line service is not the answer.

72 Messages

4年前

Since Ring is owned by Amazon and they have a TON of cash I would not be surprised if the reason monitoring is so cheap is that Amazon is willing to lose a little bit of money or break even on their monitoring service to start in order to build their user base rapidly.

33 Messages

@ajp39

I agree. This is Amazon's typical business model. They shoot for high volume, even if it costs them money up-front, in order to have a larger audience to sell to later. Maybe they can get the manufacturing costs of Ring products down, so they're planning on selling the products as their bread-and-butter. Or maybe, as suggest by another user, they plan on raising the subscription cost in the near future (though, I would think at least a year would pass before this happens). Or maybe they will use Amazon's existing customer service team to also be their monitoring center. Or maybe they don't know what they're doing, lol.

Whatever the means and motive, this will definitely disrupt the already disrupted home security market (typical Amazon). And it will force companies to give a reason as to why they have priced their subscriptions the way they have been doing these past few years. This is exactly what SS did when they explained how they could have lower security monitoring costs versus the competitors of their day. Though, if this low price results in low-quality monitoring, then maybe companies like SS don't need say anything because the results will speak for themselves. However, if the monitoring is actually on par with other home security companies, then answers will be needed. If this turns out to be a profit margin topic, that will spell trouble for Ring's competitors.

8 Messages

4年前

Just my opinion but I think if SS would just stop charging an extra $10 a month just to use the app they would be fine.

33 Messages

@topgun74

That's a pretty good idea. I, too, agree that many people would be willing to pay $14.99/month (and ~$150/year with annual discount) for the SS Interactive Plan over the Ring plan. This would make existing customer very happy and more than willing to stay with SS.
Agreed!!

Captain

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4.7K Messages

4年前

@topgun74, djchavar, excellent idea indeed, not just less expensive but the beauty of simplicity too: 14.99, all in. Simple, honest pricing.  Add SS releases the video doorbell and camera, it will have what it needs to more than compete with Ring.

Advocate

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2.2K Messages

4年前

@topgun, ah, then the cellular component is probably not the primary reason for Ring's lower cost.  I wonder which company it is through and how it compares with Verizon which SS uses (it would be hard presses to be worse than T-Mobile, the other SS choice  :-)

3 Messages

Contacted Ring today.  The rep stated that they were using AT&T for cell.  If you get a basic system from Ring or SS for, say, $250-$300, you'll pay for most of that over a year with monitoring savings (assuming you want cell backup, etc).  Sure, Ring may go up in a year or two, but I doubt from $10 to $25.  So, it it goes up by 50% t0 $15, that still $120/yr.  SS needs to think hard about the monitoring cost.  I can get a brand new Ring system and come out even in 18 months or so.

Advocate

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2.2K Messages

4年前

I'd say wait until the Ring is actually available and we can get some feedback about it.  Doesn't matter how cheap it is if it won't do nearly as good a job.