Interview with BFG's John Malley (cont.)
HH: Will additional functionality and features be introduced for Phobos that take advantage of the built in touch-screen control system? Does BFG have software engineers in-house working on the various utilities and applications that employ the touch-screen?
BFG: One of the cool things about the touch panel integrated into Phobos is that we can continue to work on upgrading the software, like any application. It’s a fully functional panel PC, so we will continue to listen to customer and reviewer feedback to make it even better in future versions. We have a few programmers working with the interface and overclocking functionality, and we designed the GUI and overall functionality in house and own 100% of the code.
HH: The "Concierge Service" BFG is offering with the Phobos seems like it could be very expensive for the company to maintain in the long-run. How well has the Concierge Service option been embraced by customers? And does BFG plan to continue offering Concierge Service for the foreseeable future?
BFG: We’ve managed to blend the cost of the concierge service into the savings we get from our high volume of graphics cards and power supplies, so we’re able to offer a really nice service and still have competitively priced systems. And people seem to really like the service, so we’ll continue to offer this with every Phobos system for the foreseeable future.
HH: How many technicians do you currently have on staff to support the Phobos product line’s concierge service? Can you scale this easily if need be?
BFG: We can currently deliver and install Phobos in any zip code in the continental United States, and we are working on having this service for Canada and Europe as well. We can scale this if need be.
HH: What market need prompted BFG to introduce the Phobos product and service concept? Are there that many power users out there that don’t want to worry about system maintenance upgrade and upkeep?
BFG: We think there are a good number of “graduated gamers” out there who either don’t know how, don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to build their own system. This is supported by the success of the other boutique system builders currently in the same market. Our concierge service was a way for us to offer something more than the competition, while at the same time minimizing after sales tech support calls—which is good for both BFG and the customer. We believe the consumers who are interested in pre-built systems also appreciate not having to set everything up themselves, since most of these customers are not “do-it-yourself” people, but they still want all the performance of a powerful gaming/home theater system.
HH: BFG’s Phobos seems to be a bit on the pricey side, if you consider the base components involved with the system build. What are your thoughts about the product’s cost model and its value to the end customer?
BFG: I think Phobos might seem pricey to people who are used to building their own systems. However, if you compare Phobos to other similarly-configured, pre-built high performance systems, our research indicates that Phobos is priced competitively. And again, when you consider the concierge service, the one touch overclocking, the warranty, the personalized tech support, and all the other value-added features, we believe the value proposition for the consumer gets even better.