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.
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.
Starter Kit: $229/$199 (keypad, base station, entry sensor, motion sensor, base station range extender [extender for Ring only])
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.
I realize some of these suggestions are in the works, but I just want to lay out some thoughts about them.
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.
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.
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.