Interview with Escort's new management at SEMA to discuss Escort's future

Vortex

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#1
So as discussed in another thread, I had a chance to meet up with the new management at Escort / Cedar at SEMA this week and hear about the future of the company and what the new team envisions for Escort's future. Here's the complete interview.


So as you guys correctly guessed, the main idea is their focus on sharing alerts, especially with their Escort Live / Cobra iRadar apps. There was a little bit of a twist on it that I wasn't expecting though that helped put everything into perspective for me.

The idea was a shift in thought away from thinking of radar detectors themselves as products. The idea is that the point of the radar detector is to get an alert and the alert is the product. The alert is something you can share via the app to other radar detector users. You can also share it with other drivers running a Cobra dashcam or Cobra CB radio which is especially nice for those who can't run a RD for whatever reason or simply don't want to and yet they can still get the realtime alerts too. While the shared alert idea is nothing new, it's the shift away from thinking of the RD and dashcams as the products and towards thinking of the alerts as the products that helped tie everything together for me as far as the whole ecosystem. Rather than a bunch of assorted different products that happen to connect to the cloud, you have an interconnected alert sharing system first and foremost with many different devices that all tap into it.

Another big point is that Escort wants to reduce the overall product lineup substantially. Having so many versions of similar products ("Hey look! Yet another rebadged M4!") makes it tough for customers to decide which product they should buy. Additionally, it also makes it really tough for Escort to release updates when they have dozens of different detectors yet their engineers can only do so much at once.

Speaking of having many detectors, they want to start making their detectors more similar under the hood, similar to how auto manufacturers often share a chassis between multiple different vehicle models. They want to do something similar with their different detectors moving forward so that when they make a change to one detector such as a BSM filtering update, they can more easily and rapidly adapt that update to other detectors as well. (This is actually why it took so long for the Max2's BSM filter to come out even after they had it available for the Max360. It turns out they're actually quite different under the hood to the point where the BSM filtering code couldn't simply be copy/pasted. It had to be rewritten for the other detector.) Different detectors have different processors and amounts of memory and this is an issue when trying to port over changes from one detector to another. I definitely hope they can make this happen to where both older and newer detectors with varying hardware, antennas, and underlying platforms can still receive the same changes more easily.

It's also going to make things easier for them in terms of the supply chain, inventory they need to carry, having replacement parts available, how many different products the customer service people need to know about, and so on. We've given them a lot of flack for how many different detectors they carry, and it sounds like they're wanting to cut down on their overall product count as well so I'm glad about this.

Finally, as far as meeting the folks at Escort, they were all really nice people. I enjoyed spending time with them. I know the company has gotten a lot of flack online for their behavior and actions the past few years, and deservedly so. However, meeting with them in person at shows, that's always been a positive experience for me and I'm glad that the same continues to hold true with their new management team as well. Chris, Gail, and Manny are all great people.
 

Jon at Radenso

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There were once two competing tech companies. Both believed software was the future, and both realized they could raise more money from shareholders and investors by pitching themselves as a software company instead of a hardware company.

One focused on software first with a disjointed hardware strategy, and the other focused on making the best hardware possible - industry leading, revolutionary hardware.

Today, the company that focused on hardware first now is the most valuable company in the world and has the most profitable software division. They leveraged their hardware to win in software everywhere they chose to win.

The company that focused on software first (because they could not innovate on the hardware level) now has been forced to play catch-up and re-invest in hardware like the Surface series products.

The App store is nothing without the iPhone. The Windows store is....well, the Windows app store.

I'd rather be Apple.
 

freakNfit

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Listening to the interview now as I type this. First impression is that they want to talk to you whereas the interview a few months ago the VPs didn't appear to be enthused at all. Change or stagnation comes from the top down, and you are now talking to the 3 top brass in the company. I'm not getting my hopes up but it's at least a good sign.

On a side note, it was interesting seeing your comment Jon at Radenso that Radenso is partly owned by the former owner of heyday Escort. That's awesome and look forward to seeing the advancement of your products..
 

westwind77

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Great video - interesting approach they are taking. It seems like that are getting out of the traditional 'range war' and hoping their cloud based alert system will advance to the point where as long as there is 'adequate' range with their RD's the cloud alerts will sway people toward their product.

Personally I think that is a rather large gamble as they would need to flood the market with other products able to complete this task seamlessly and produce enough of a 'live' database to be relevant against existing apps such as Waze. I run my 360 90% of the time without EL running as most of my trips shorter and I feel no need to run it, however I do get alerts during these that are not reported.

The other issue here is Wi-Fi, they are banking on all of these new 'connected' RD's to report automatically through a vehicles wi-fi system. I'm currently in the market for a new vehicle and I have it narrowed down to 4 different one, starting at $45k and going up - only 1 of the 2019 models has the option for wi-fi. The list of vehicles with on-board wi-fi is growing, but IMO is nowhere near the point to support this kind of 'limitless range' yet as most people are going to have to manually launch EL with BT to have these reports sent in to make it viable, which I have a feeling most do not currently, unless on longer trips, such as myself.

Then there is the issue of cost of on-board wi-fi and the need for it. I have never once gone over my monthly data limit on my iPhone. I also have kids, but see no need to spend monthly $$$ just to have wi-fi in the vehicle, they have never complained about not having it at their age. So, just because these vehicles have wi-fi, what percentage are actually going to have it 'active' for the auto reports that would normally get missed if someone does not manually open EL every time they get in their vehicle.

For once I will say Escort is ahead of the times here - they need to wait until more vehicles are sold with std wi-fi where there is little to no out of pocket cost to the consumer for this to really blossom into what they are hoping to accomplish.

The 'Good, Better, Best' philosophy is intriguing. I am curious to see what they introduce over time. It seems like toward the end they plan to release a few more goodies at the CES show as well. There almost seemed like a hint of a loooooooong awaited update to EL as well. If they are going to push this connected device/limitless range they need to update/improve EL! The reviews are horrible on-line and will quickly push potential buyers away if they look it up while standing in a store reading the product box.

CES should be interesting!
 
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LexusISF

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Great interview Vortex. These guys are amazing at talking for long periods and using coined expressions but not really saying anything significant or what the community wants to hear in my opinion. Ya fewer detectors and shared platforms, well duh...using paying escort live members to push out notifications to CB radios ok maybe, but is that a strong business plan, note sure. Adding wifi in all units is nice to have but not a need to have. Nothing from them on adding an extremely important feature for built in auto kill on there latest jammers...I dont feel any more confident about the future of the company or it will change much...
 

Got Jeep

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I don’t have time to watch the Vid right now, but I read your post. Almost everything you state they want to do boils down to one thing. To make themselves more money. Rightly so, that’s what they are in business for.
It makes sense to have the different devices communicate. Obviously, everything is moving towards being interconnected. Unfortunately, noting their model, they will get a bunch of patents that will hamper competition and innovation.
Again, great business move. Not great for the end users.
 

fitz4321

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I haven’t watched the vid yet. It seems they are isolating themselves by focusing on cloud alerts. Me personally, I want my equipment to work well for me (R3), other alerts are secondary (waze). If Escort makes a product that meets my hardware needs and gives me cloud stuff as an extra, cool. It isn’t happening now, but I’m watching.
 

Luminox2323

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Why would I want to "trust the cloud" with my detections. What if someone didn't mark it, or the LEO just started enforcement? How good is the cloud then?
 

Gowski

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I'm willing to bet we will paying more soon for this software or as I see it, DaaS (Detection as a Service), once rolled out. Question is now is how well it will get adopted and will it be worth the price. My guess is it wont, at least in my neck of the woods. Seeing that Waze, a free service, doesnt even offer enough justification to use as a detector here. I understand the two work totally different, but its still based on adoption and here at least it wont be worth whatever stupid price escort puts on it. It may come down to marketing (aka lying) which is escorts strong suit. We'll see!
 
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Vortex

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Why would I want to "trust the cloud" with my detections. What if someone didn't mark it, or the LEO just started enforcement? How good is the cloud then?
Yeah clearly there's times when a radar detector will save you. There's also times when the app can save you. Often times both can save you. It's all about having additional layers of protection that complement each other. I think it's a good idea in theory, but like many of you guys, I often don't even bother running Escort Live in practice. Maybe if it did a better job of always reconnecting automatically in the background, and I guess having in-car WiFi would help with this too, but currently I still don't see it to be a massive huge deal. It is something that is unique for Escort though and I can totally understand them pushing it as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.

I was chatting with the Escort guys again this morning and brought up an idea that popped into my mind earlier. With the push towards the cloud and having "unlimited range," that could be an easy way to stop pushing hard to go for long range performance on the RD front. They said that they were thinking about it too and said that hardware is still a huge focus. After all, we need good quality detectors to have all the alerts in the cloud in the first place so the idea is to have both good hardware and software working together.

That's the idea anyways and as always, we'll see if they continue to push hard for truly long range radar detection.
 

benzr

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Yawn .............

They were controlling the interview
They got almost all their diatribe out unchallenged.

No offense Vortex buy THEY ran that "interview".

Normally you Vortex run the interview...
On that note I highly praise you !!
This one ... not so much IMHO.

benzr


Posted from my iPhone using the RDF Mobile App!
 

Vortex

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Yawn .............

They were controlling the interview
They got almost all their diatribe out unchallenged.

No offense Vortex buy THEY ran that "interview".

Normally you Vortex run the interview...
On that note I highly praise you !!
This one ... not so much IMHO.

benzr
That was the idea. I wanted to give them a space to share what they have to share and hear what they have to say. I ask a few leading questions and I let them respond. I can certainly understand if you prefer a different style though. That's cool. :)
 

Gowski

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Yawn .............

They were controlling the interview
They got almost all their diatribe out unchallenged.

No offense Vortex buy THEY ran that "interview".

Normally you Vortex run the interview...
On that note I highly praise you !!
This one ... not so much IMHO.

benzr


Posted from my iPhone using the RDF Mobile App!
Vortex gets a meeting with C-levels from a multi million dollar electronics company and you criticize his interviewing style?...Seriously man show some respect.
 

Vortex

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Vortex gets a meeting with C-levels from a multi million dollar electronics company and you criticize his interviewing style?...Seriously man show some respect.
Oh it’s okay. I’m certainly by no means perfect and I appreciate the feedback to help me improve and get better. At the end of the day, I’m just a normal guy and I’ve got plenty of areas I could improve upon while I do all this stuff. :)
 

CJR238

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So as you guys correctly guessed, the main idea is their focus on sharing alerts,
Well that's certainly something there RD's do more than others. lol
 

PointerCone

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#17
So as discussed in another thread, I had a chance to meet up with the new management at Escort / Cedar at SEMA this week and hear about the future of the company and what the new team envisions for Escort's future. Here's the complete interview.


So as you guys correctly guessed, the main idea is their focus on sharing alerts, especially with their Escort Live / Cobra iRadar apps. There was a little bit of a twist on it that I wasn't expecting though that helped put everything into perspective for me.

The idea was a shift in thought away from thinking of radar detectors themselves as products. The idea is that the point of the radar detector is to get an alert and the alert is the product. The alert is something you can share via the app to other radar detector users. You can also share it with other drivers running a Cobra dashcam or Cobra CB radio which is especially nice for those who can't run a RD for whatever reason or simply don't want to and yet they can still get the realtime alerts too. While the shared alert idea is nothing new, it's the shift away from thinking of the RD and dashcams as the products and towards thinking of the alerts as the products that helped tie everything together for me as far as the whole ecosystem. Rather than a bunch of assorted different products that happen to connect to the cloud, you have an interconnected alert sharing system first and foremost with many different devices that all tap into it.

Another big point is that Escort wants to reduce the overall product lineup substantially. Having so many versions of similar products ("Hey look! Yet another rebadged M4!") makes it tough for customers to decide which product they should buy. Additionally, it also makes it really tough for Escort to release updates when they have dozens of different detectors yet their engineers can only do so much at once.

Speaking of having many detectors, they want to start making their detectors more similar under the hood, similar to how auto manufacturers often share a chassis between multiple different vehicle models. They want to do something similar with their different detectors moving forward so that when they make a change to one detector such as a BSM filtering update, they can more easily and rapidly adapt that update to other detectors as well. (This is actually why it took so long for the Max2's BSM filter to come out even after they had it available for the Max360. It turns out they're actually quite different under the hood to the point where the BSM filtering code couldn't simply be copy/pasted. It had to be rewritten for the other detector.) Different detectors have different processors and amounts of memory and this is an issue when trying to port over changes from one detector to another. I definitely hope they can make this happen to where both older and newer detectors with varying hardware, antennas, and underlying platforms can still receive the same changes more easily.

It's also going to make things easier for them in terms of the supply chain, inventory they need to carry, having replacement parts available, how many different products the customer service people need to know about, and so on. We've given them a lot of flack for how many different detectors they carry, and it sounds like they're wanting to cut down on their overall product count as well so I'm glad about this.

Finally, as far as meeting the folks at Escort, they were all really nice people. I enjoyed spending time with them. I know the company has gotten a lot of flack online for their behavior and actions the past few years, and deservedly so. However, meeting with them in person at shows, that's always been a positive experience for me and I'm glad that the same continues to hold true with their new management team as well. Chris, Gail, and Manny are all great people.
Yeah, its called Badge Engineering and was an abysmal failure for GM many decades ago with the Cadillac Cimarron. Unless they plan on using the M3 or some iteration of it, I "believe" they are barking up the wrong tree. Taking a Chevy Cavalier and turning it into a Cadillac Cimarron without doing much else is still considered one of the worst ideas ever.

So, let's take a hypothetical M4+, add some Blue Tooth or wifi and this will turn it into an Escort Cloud Alert-O-Matic. Don't worry about that cop shooting IO in front of you because no matter how great or poorly the M4 performs, the "cloud " will tell you about it from the guy ahead of you who got shot by an MPH. Doesn't matter if there's a guy in front of you or not? We'll just know about Mr. Stalker up ahead.

The fundamental flaws in their logic is that the "bucket"(antenna) is still no good, so no matter how much you make it "Connected, its only garbage in, garbage out. If the M4+ misses that IO shot up ahead, guess who's next in line for the next shot?? YOU!!! Yes you. because the cloud didnt know about the shot up ahead because the "bucket" didnt catch it. DUH!! So let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya while ER pares down their line to just a few units where they can make a little bit of $$, stay alive and hope for the next buy out when it comes. So, what's there to get excited about? An M1 camera with mediocre vid quality that easily hooks up to your RD??

The more I see, the less I like!!
 

Luminox2323

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I really enjoyed the interview Vortex. I found it very fair and informative. Great work!!
 

LexusISF

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Ya the more I think about it, maybe they have throw in towel on the hardware side to compete on long range and recognize Uniden has eaten their lunch while they were a sleep at the switch....I dont know the costs but maybe cheaper for them to go down the road of software/connectivity world and hope that works for them...
 

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Yeah clearly there's times when a radar detector will save you. There's also times when the app can save you. Often times both can save you. It's all about having additional layers of protection that complement each other. I think it's a good idea in theory, but like many of you guys, I often don't even bother running Escort Live in practice. Maybe if it did a better job of always reconnecting automatically in the background, and I guess having in-car WiFi would help with this too, but currently I still don't see it to be a massive huge deal. It is something that is unique for Escort though and I can totally understand them pushing it as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.

I was chatting with the Escort guys again this morning and brought up an idea that popped into my mind earlier. With the push towards the cloud and having "unlimited range," that could be an easy way to stop pushing hard to go for long range performance on the RD front. They said that they were thinking about it too and said that hardware is still a huge focus. After all, we need good quality detectors to have all the alerts in the cloud in the first place so the idea is to have both good hardware and software working together.

That's the idea anyways and as always, we'll see if they continue to push hard for truly long range radar detection.
If they really want to go that way, then they really need to up their game on the software side. EL hasn't ever been much of an app that made me want to use it. Escort should hire/contract @johnboy00 or @mswlogo or both of them if they really want to get serious.
 
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