I think this illustrates one of the key differences of the VSaaS market vs other cloud offerings. Most other cloud offerings only use devices that you already own - typically a computer or mobile phone. VSaaS though requires cameras, which maybe you own already or maybe you don't.
The closest analogy I have come up with is IP phone systems. Many companies work with 'standard' IP phones such as PolyCom, while a few require that you use their phones to work with their system. You can generally find those on eBay a few years after they were installed.
The bottom line is that nobody is saying that there's anything wrong with a subscription, the problem is that the hardware that you buy stops working when you stop paying. This is not a common paradigm in other SaaS offerings.
Verkada calls it a camera. If Netflix said you have to buy their expensive video monitoring device you may have an out as it is listed as a proprietary device exclusive for their use. But if you say it is a monitor or TV you ssume it works with other things as it is a standard.
Imaging of they put a special connector on the monitor so only their device plugged in to it.
For me, the real risk has always been that the company would end support for the product line, leaving customers with worthless and unusable cameras. If Axis goes out of business tomorrow, my Axis cameras would continue to work just fine for years and years. If Verkada goes out of business tomorrow, all their customers are screwed.
If IPVM goes out of business tomorrow, I would be very sad, but it wouldn't put my business at risk.
People have been talking about the abandoned tech problem for years.
I think the more practical risk is that the company goes sideways and while staying in business, new product releases become weak.
Verkada can easily counter the out-of-business claim by saying "Why would we ever go out of business? someone would surely buy us." And I would agree because almost anything can get bought, someone bought Arecont.... Arecont.
Arecont still exists but if you were locked into Arecont, you surely would not be happy. That's the more practical risk for Verkada customers.
Verkada isn't anything like a garden plant. I buy it, put labor into planting it, water it and then, if I stop watering it, it dies and I lost all of the investment. At that point I have to choose to expend labor to remove it.
Verkada isn't anything like insurance. I pay for it, I don't file a claim, I stop paying and all my investment went to waste.
Verkada customers are buying a solution. That solution has inherent benefits and risks.
While many may dislike Verkada's offering and would prefer to tailor it to something YOU feel is a good business, that's not what they are there for. They are there to provide a return on investment to those investors who do believe it's a good business opportunity and a solution to those who purchase from them.
I believe in a free market and letting the market decide. People are buying "free alarm systems" all day long, knowing there is a monthly payment and recourse for ending the agreement early. Even after signing an agreement, with a 3 day waiting period, some are still shocked that after not paying the authorities are no longer called and someone may come by to pick up the equipment.
I believe in a free market and letting the market decide.
This is letting the free market decide. IPVM is in the business of analyzing security doohickies and giving their honest opinion on them, and IPVM's opinion is that this business model is dumb and potentially harmful. This ain't no hippy commune, people pay good money to read these opinions.
Actually I think Verkada is like a garden plant. You buy it and plant it but you can only water it with special Verkada water that you pay for on a monthly subscription. If you cancel your "water" subscription your expensive plant dies and you then have to expend effort to remove it and re-plant with a plant that can be watered with generic "water".
I agree with you to a degree, but I think perspective with regard to the intent of the hardware to lock in customers isn't necessarily accurate. For a company like Verkada / Meraki / Rhombus, the cameras (a major portion of the solution investment) become unusable if the subscription stops for whatever reason.
That said, controlling the hardware is often necessary in order to provide the more advanced feature set not typically found in appliance based cloud solutions, i.e. AI based intelligence, secure connection to the cloud service, etc.
The key here is not whether proprietary hardware is necessary...it's what kind of options are provided to the customer IF the subscription stops. For instance, Ava requires the use of our own cameras if one wants a direct camera-to-cloud offering. A key difference in our approach, though, is that all our cameras are also being updated this year (new and existing units) to be ONVIF compatible so that if the customer decides to end the service, the cameras are still usable on any ONVIF compatible platform, of which there are many to choose from. No one is "locked in" or trapped even though it is a cloud subscription model.
Alternatively, the Cloud Connector (appliance) architecture allows the use of 3rd party cameras (ONVIF or RTSP) and internally applies all the AI / analytics to those video streams.
Ultimately, the question is not whether or not specific / "proprietary" cameras are required for the direct-to-cloud service, but whether the manufacturer is willing to give customers the option of using those cameras on another platform if they decide to terminate the service.
The Verkada business model doesn't map to the IPVM business model. It maps much better to the Juciero business model. With hardware that becomes useless once the subscription is ended. The plus to Juciero was at least their overbuilt machine didn't have a backdoor for creepy frat boys to peek in at my home.
Jay's point was the only way I was able to sway a school district from going down the path of Verkada. They were totally fine with the subscription, and okay with the bricked hardware too (seemed weird to me). The last thing that made them think otherwise was talking about the initial installation labor and then the labor to remove and re-install something else. In this opportunity, there were close to 200 cameras. Some on the fly math made him put the brakes on Verkada which eventually changed the spec.
To me it seems comparable to the cellular industry several years ago. You pay for and own the phone but are locked into the carrier. The carriers did not want to unlock the phones to allow you to choose your cellular provider. You were stuck with the provider or having to buy a new phone. That is how I see Verkada.
The cellular companies held you hostage knowing that you would have to buy a new phone to leave.
I associate it more with my Tivo DVR. I pay for a subscription to Tivo for a DVR that gets updated more often and has better features that the cable company's offering. When I stop paying they stop working, and I did pay a pretty penny for the highest teir device they offered. I can sell the used units, not sure if you could sell your Verkada cameras when cancelled.
Only bad I've seen with Tivo is now that the focus is on streaming their DVR has taken a backseat to their streaming device, therefore is is starting to fall behind that offered by the cable company. I think they probably have enough customers to keep it going, at least at the current level, and when they stop supporting it I probably will have cancelled already anyway. I only use it about 10% of the time now and should probably officially cut the cord.
I love my Tivo (2nd gen), but recently stopped using it. One big difference is that Tivo offered lifetime subscriptions. I purchased my Tivo more than 10 years ago, and haven't paid a dime to them afterward. They even were nice enough to transfer the lifetime service to another unit when I needed warranty service. I have other tivos that I was given that had lifetime service and they transferred the service to my account.
I wouldn't say tivo is a lock-in, as you can use your own OTA, cable, etc. with them. You can continue to access your recordings and watch live tv with them. If you had a monthly service account and stopped paying, you could still use it as an old-school VCR, IIRC.
I'm afraid that I can't conflate these. I can cancel - at anytime - with Netflix on IPVM. Verkada is a lock-in contract where you own the equipment, but can't use it if you aren't paying the subscription fees. So, you pay good dollars for equipment that is essentially bricked. IF they gave their customers an opt-out with all data (which I can't say if they do as I'm not that knowledgeable about their contracts) and the ability to run a "local" instance of the viewing platform OR if they allowed the cameras to be onboarded to another VMS, then I think they would better serve their customers. I understand their perspective in that RMR (and locked RMR) provides monthly revenue and holds customers as "sticky" to their product offering - generating consistent revenue over term. These kinds of contracts are a little odious in my mind as many people don't read the fine print or don't understand the long-term consequences of being in this type of relationship. caveat emptor consumers!