Black Market = illegal buying and selling, e.g. rhinoceros horns
Grey Market = unauthorized* buying and selling, e.g. Avigilon cameras on the web
Silva Consultants | 12/17/18 05:22pm
To expand on what Undisclosed #2 stated, "grey market" usually refer to products that are sold outside of the product manufacturer's authorized sales channel. For example, a manufacturer may require that their dealers sell only to end-users in a specific geographical territory. If the dealer sold products online or outside of their designated territory, that would be considered a "grey market" sale.
The risk to the purchaser of a grey market product is that the manufacturer may refuse to support products on purchases that occurred outside of regular channels. The risk to the seller of grey market products is that they may lose their authorized dealer status if a manufacturer discovers that grey market sales are being made.
In reality, I have found that most reputable manufacturers will cut an end-user a break on support if a grey market product was unknowing purchased. They would rather ignore the policy violation than have an unhappy end-user bad-mouthing their product. On the dealer side, I suspect that some manufacturers turn a blind-eye to grey market sales because they would rather enjoy the sales volume than enforce their own rules.
Grey market is when an OEM gets a steep discount from "normal channel price" for integration purposes. The agreement between the OEM and the manufacturer is the products are not sold in a way that would disrupt the channel. Manufacturer of the subject product has done much to build a healthy channel at a healthy margin and wishes to protect their investment. Warranty is typically to the OEM only and cant be returned in the same way the channel product is. There mat be difference in the label or firmware but the product is quite likely identical. Most grey market product ships from China where these agreements are routinely broken. China like to use the term "soft bundle" as a way to get around the agreement. Hard bundle means product must be integrated before OEM ships it anyway (except for their CM). Soft bundle allows for the product to be exported for the purposes of being sold as a complete kit even though not fully integrated. US manufactures should not allow soft bundle if they wish to stop this.
Argument for buying grey market:
You likely will not have best in class warranty
Local support (FAE etc) will be denied
Your reputation with the manufacturer
Another risk of Grey Market product can be interference with other devices or nearby equipment. For example, a product intended for sale in China only may not meet US FCC specs and emit various electrical or RF noise that interferes with wifi, AM/FM radio, etc.
In other cases, if something was intended to be sold in countries with 50hz power, running on a 60hz power supply can cause issues with things related to timing and synchronization. This would more typically affect AC-powered devices, but you can also sometimes see shutter timing artifacts with things like fluorescent lights.
Before Hikvision became widely available in US, people would procure it from places like Ali Express, where the sellers would crack the foreign firmware to use English firmware. Referred to as Grey market specifically, but generally it is procuring it through an illegitimate distribution/channel.
I have bought several photography lenses black market about 20 years ago as ecommerce started making brick and mortar less competitive.
If you are a professional integration company, you shouldn't be installing grey market product. I have bought security cameras grey market in past for personal uses.
Further subtle coloration:
Grey Market used more often in U.K.
Gray Market used more often in U.S.A.
I usually think of grey market products as ones that are designed for one market, but are "hacked" to make it work elsewhere and then sold there. For example, Chinese only models that are hacked to show an English interface. However it won't take normal US firmware and may not be compatible with US products. Some manufacturers will track serial numbers and not support it.
That being said, if a brand has an issue with grey market products, I think you should stay away from them. You only really hear about this with Hik & Dahua. I believe this is because they make their guts and they rely on OEM partners to skin the product/"value add" (I know that is a joke, as there is no actual value added).
When models that are designed for that region are sold online or through unauthorized dealers, such as B&H, amazon... I don't know if I would call that grey market products... You just don't know if it is new, refurb, or has been sitting in a warehouse for 2 years and has a short warranty, as the original warranty is from a previous sale. In this case, I wouldn't worry about the product getting updates, compatibility, etc.
Has anyone actually had grey market issus with anything BESIDES Hikua??