Surveillance camera companies do not charge annual license or maintenance fees. But please let's not give them any ideas ;)
The only ones that do are those that provide hosted video (and that's really for recording) OR those that are essentially leasing the cameras (low down payment, etc.).
Typically, cameras do not get much better over time. Often, the first few firmware upgrades for cameras right after release can contain notable improvements but that's mainly because they are getting field feedback and optimizing cameras.
As for VMS annual license fees, you raise a very interesting point about bug fixes vs new features. Clearly, the VMS manufacturers are focusing their pitch / value on new cameras. Of course, it is hard to know what those new features will be and if they will be of value to you, especially since they are rarely disclosed more than a few months beforehand.
More on VMS annual fees:
Not speaking for my company as we don't do those, I can say that software is always under development and most will allow you to use their product without an SMA in place but you will not get updates and patches. The IT world accepts this readily as they know many outside sources can influence a software based system and changes could be critical. If you install a hardware simple alarm or camera and walk away would you offer to fix it for free if after your warranty ther customer remodeled and took it down? Probably not. If Microsoft makes Operating System changes to manage virus attacks and it negatively affects the VMS the manufacturer can't just tell everyone to "disconnect from any computer or network". You need patches and they are it. I have seen several companies make that decision at a security level because these agreements sound strange to them. So after a couple of years they choose to pay a larger fee to restart or buy the product over to get updated. I have had IT managers refuse to install a product without an SMA or SLA attached to it. Selling these can be a matter of perspective. G
I suppose that is my question to the forum Greg. Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of upgrades that were worth the price of admission? To a security director a patch is fixing a problem the manufacturer caused in the first place, and he should not have to pay for it. Upgrades however are a different thing. It may not look like it, but I am looking to build an arguement or business case for upgrades, not against them. If I can find instances where the customer recieved upgrades (actual improvements or something he did not have before) that would go a long way to building the business case.
One strong point is that a manufacturer tests his products with the newest OS platforms that are developed, and makes any necessary corrections. I don't know if they actually do that. But, new or improved features would go a long way towards making the case.
For instance, the Honeywell Prowatch access software is tested for operational ability as new Windows OS's are released. They also often add small new features and make corrections. Directors and IT personnel don't have significant issues paying the annual fees. VMS companies need to take the same position.