November 11, 2010
Wireless Home Alarms – ADT Pulse Check
It’s finally happened: ADT has launched a product that goes beyond traditional alarm monitoring. They call it “Pulse” – and it’s already being advertised on television. For those of us who staked out an early position in next-generation alarm services, ADT is over four years late to the party – but when the behemoth eventually embraces (and further validates) the advanced home security products and services that are FrontPoint’s specialty, who are we to complain? And here’s the big question: can a huge alarm company that has operated in an “old school” manner for so long make the transition to next-gen? The jury will be out for a while on this one…
Curious about how Pulse was being advertised and sold, I called the ADT Pulse toll-free number for information. First there was the multi-level auto-attendant (if you’ve never tried this, it’s worth the experience to see how complex answering the phone can be!). I soon learned that nobody could (or would) explain the product to me over the phone: according to the telephone representative, I called an appointment scheduling number, and the only way to get the full monty on how ADT Pulse works – and how much it costs - is for an ADT salesperson to visit my home. Yes, there is limited information on-line, but not a real description of how the product works. They eventually gave me a toll-free number to the local ADT office, where someone could surely help me - this number rang at a different call center (this time in Texas), and again nobody could explain the product. We finally did reach the local office here in DC, and obtained some helpful, though limited, information.
The Pulse service looks similar to other interactive platforms on the surface, but does have some significant differences. A basic Pulse system costs about four times as much as a traditional ADT system (ouch). But there is good news: the system does rely on cellular monitoring, which is absolutely essential for any reliable home protection. The bad news: the basic monthly cost is $47.99 for monitoring, which includes only a few limited interactive features. Strangely, video is extra, and could not be priced over the phone – plus, additional equipment would be required. In other words, this is an expensive investment for any consumer, and also requires a really high monthly cost. And despite the slick marketing, there is no mention (yet) of a solution to defeat a burglar who smashes the control panel (sometimes called “Crash and Smash”). The technology to defeat Crash and Smash was patented by Alarm.com, and companies like FrontPoint have been offering it (and explaining it!) for years.
Just as important as the confusing sales information and high prices, I question how well ADT will support such a significant departure in technology. For big companies who are late arrivals to next-gen alarm services, there is a significant hurdle (and perhaps even an internal culture shift) required to sell and explain the new products. If it takes multiple calls and hours of persistence just to get information from ADT regarding how Pulse is priced and how it works, how will they adequately support new customers who sign up?
As one of the smaller and nimbler companies that have been delivering interactive, wireless home security for years, FrontPoint keeps a close watch on the many evolving aspects of the alarm industry. We believe in alarm systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable – and that’s what we have offered from day one. The fact that we are selling better services for less should only help us when alarm shoppers see the Pulse ads and start looking for interactive services. We’re ready, bring ‘em on!