Axis: "No One Wants To Buy A Camera"

By John Honovich, Published Nov 09, 2018, 08:52am EST

Axis has, in its own description, made a bold declaration:

The industry is changing so rapidly that the following statement might seem bold but it’s true. No one wants to buy a camera.

This statement underscores a number of material problems:

  • The issue with many just wanting to 'buy a camera'
  • The problem with Axis marketing edge analytics
  • The bigger problem with Axis ineffective marketing strategy

Inside this note, we examine them.

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*** **** **** *** Axis *********** ** **** Axis ********* ** ********** market ******** ************* ** beat **** *** ***** who **** ** '*** cameras.'

Comments (41)

Better slogans...

"People want a solution more than a camera"

"We're cameras that offer solutions"

"People want to buy more than just a camera"

"People get more than just a camera [with Axis]"

"Buy this camera or we'll run over your dog"

 

 

 

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I have to agree with Axis here.

Edge analytics aren't used enough or fully understood. Many of the tests that IPVM published for edge analytics end up getting a poor review because assumptions are made and a test is created around those assumptions. The key to edge analytics is understanding the weaknesses and educating the customer where to avoid using them. I've had high success using line crossing, area intrusion and loitering etc for applications I know they will create minimal to zero false alarms. Understanding scheduling, sensitivity, lighting etc are all part of it. It takes a high degree of experience to get it right, but it can be done and the end user loves it. In the next few years, edge analytics will work much better and not require such experience.

People want a solution, not just a stream. The industry understands this as you see more and more consumer IP video products offering analytics like Nest, Ring and Hanwha doorbells and cameras being integrated to home intrusion and home automation. I will boldly claim that anyone who syas they just want a camera, is ignorant to the benefits of a solution or mistakingly think a solution costs much more.

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Excellent feedback, brings up good counterpoints to discuss.

because assumptions are made and a test is created around those assumptions.

Yes, totally 'unrealistic' assumptions like:

  • The analytic knows the difference between rain drops and a person
  • The analytics knows the difference between leaves and a person
  • The analytics knows the difference between turning on the lights and a person.

Funny, you should mention Nest because Nest actually does far better on this than Axis, Hanwha, Hikision, etc., e.g., Consumer IP Camera Analytics Shootout - Arlo, Google / Nest, Amazon / Ring, Hikvision / Ezviz

Understanding scheduling, sensitivity, lighting etc are all part of it. It takes a high degree of experience to get it right,

Or you could make your analytics work. High degree of experience scales poorly and causes significant customer problems. And usage stats underscore that, e.g., Video Analytics Usage Statistics 2018

In the next few years, edge analytics will work much better and not require such experience.

Hopefully. People have been saying that for many, many years. The Next Big Thing 2012 was video analytics and we are now at the end of 2018.

A key element of marketing is matching your marketing to your product. Your marketing can be sizzling and exciting but if the product does not deliver, it does not work. This is Axis situation here.

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I think the only thing wrong with Axis' statement is they stopped too soon.

Nobody wants to buy a camera. Or a VMS. Or an access control system. Or a fire alarm. Or analytics.

We are not in the business of selling cool, highly desired equipment. What we are selling is closer to insurance. People recognize they need it, but they'd really be much happier if there existed a scenario where they could confidently assert that they could put that money towards something more rewarding for themselves or their company.

 

 

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Everyday I say that selling security equipment has the same pitfalls and hurdles of selling insurance and is met with the same level of excitement.

 

I understand the spirit of the Axis statement and I agree. The value and goal of a project should be more than creating recorded video files to review, and that is completely possible thru "buying a camera" but the statement doesn't exactly confer that feeling.

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Couldn't disagree more. Camera systems provide peace of mind, ROI and business intelligence. If you leave a sales call and your customer still feels they are better off spending that money on something else, you haven't done your job as a salesperson.

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If you leave a sales call and your customer still feels they are better off spending that money on something else, you haven't done your job as a salesperson.

Do you go to the dentist?

 

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Couldn't disagree more. Camera systems provide peace of mind, ROI and business intelligence. 

If that were true as a general statement we wouldn't have so many stories about people not realizing parts of their system had failed until much after the failure when they went to retrieve some video and found black frames instead.

If you leave a sales call and your customer still feels they are better off spending that money on something else, you haven't done your job as a salesperson.

Your second statement does not necessarily enforce your first one. Many people buy camera systems more out of a feeling of requirements than actual desire. They frequently would love to put the money towards something else, but have to buy cameras to satisfy some internal requirements. Surely you have come across one or two customers in your sales utopia that weren't able to buy the surveillance system of their dreams due to budget? 

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Yes, integrators often do a poor job of configuring failure notifications and cameras are sometimes purchased because of compliance only. Yes, I run into many customers who would rather put more money to their camera budget after I educate them on the possibilities, but can't.

The fun part is when you bring in marketing, and operations, and IT, risk management, and/or facilities with security and explain how cameras will help them too and, wow, it's amazing how the budget magically increases so they can buy the system of their dreams.

I'll stick with what I know; If you are selling cameras like insurance, you aren't doing it right.

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If you are selling cameras like insurance, you aren't doing it right.

Nothing this guy could teach you :)

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Here's what consumers have to say about Axis. "Who's that?"

What brands do consumers know? The systems in Costco and Walmart. 

This "profound" marketing strategy from Axis isn't going to help them. They still don't get it. Like most manufacturers, they're disconnected from the end-user, and their marketing speaks to it. 

Here's what consumers want. They want an easy to use app. They want to share video with their friends and neighbors on social media easily. Most consumers are looking to see wildlife and when packages are delivered. When we sell $20-30k camera systems in these big homes, you know what feedback we get? I want to see clearly when/if a package was delivered and when my kids are standing and waiting for the bus. 

Why are companies like Ring, Nest and the like winning over consumers? Because their ads are focused on how easy their system is to use. 

I can buy a Yi camera on Amazon for $30 that outperforms any Axis camera in a child's bedroom. That's sad. 

Axis and other professional brands need to spend more of their marketing resources on providing companies like mine with fuel to fight Ring and Nest. Provide me with material thats customizable to my company to combat these other companies locally.

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Axis does not want to be a competitor to Ring or Nest. They are not concerned with the Consumer Market. The M1065-L or LW could easily be retrofitted into a small Doorbell or Baby Cam housing, stay ONVIF, and tie into any home security system. 

Axis' biggest blind spot right now is understanding the SMB End User/Consumer that really does want just a camera. A good, reliable camera that records video and has a solid Mobile App. Not every End User needs a full on "Solution" out of the gate. Maybe they want a couple now to replace some dead Analogs, that gets your foot in the door to the 8 other locations next year. Or an IT Admin that heard about Axis from a peer and wants to implement just a few. If you come at them with a "Solution" price tag, the Hikua system his other buddy has looks a lot more appealing. Large Integrators will balk at these projects and put 40 points on the quote. I think Axis is taking the same mindset. 

Nobody likes taking you car to the Dealership for service. But if you do, and the experience was great, guess where you're most likely buying your next car?

 

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Sounds like the most expensive doorbell on the planet

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We’re taking about Axis, not Mobotix, right now. 

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I would happily pay out of pocket an extra $50-100 for an Axis branded Doorbell, over a Ring or Nest, or who knows what. A solid 2MP/1080p image with great WDR and compatibility with any NVR on the planet is easily worth it. 

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I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve blown trying to get a client’s $gazillion Holovision IP doorphone/camera to work together with a Crestron control system and an Exacq NVR to function like the client’s brother-in-law’s Ring doorphone.  It doesn’t work.  It can’t work.  It will never work.  And it took Ring/Nest/etc for these clients to understand that they actually can have something that works pretty well and that it’s cheap.  It is sad that our industry’s manufacturers have been so inept as to have their lunch eaten by a bunch of garage startups when the writing has been on the wall for a decade.

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But will that Yi camera work with little to no maintenance for 5+ years?

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We live in a disposable society; a lot of consumers will happily pay less, more often because it fits the budget and does what they want it to do.

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I wouldn’t doubt that it would last 5 years no problem. But even if it only lasted a year. For $30 it doesn’t even matter. That’s what Axis and others just don’t understand. The consumer mindset is different. Even if they want to break into the mid tier residential market they’ve got to rethink their marketing and how they build their cameras. 

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Home

It may... In the case it last only a year or 2? Customer will see it as money well spent. Make no mistake, in spite of the bad talk about Hikua , their cameras are solid performers. Good to great video and speaking about Hik , reliability. I don't have long term experience with 'hua

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I'm going to be the guy that agrees with axis in a manner of speaking. Edge analytics are the thing that is going to eliminate the need for VMS systems to a large degree along with eliminating the need for humans sitting and ineffectually 'monitoring' video streams. New systems are starting to use deep learning and cloud based AI training to eliminate false positives while implementing predictive analytics and JIT reactions as opposed to a reactive 'investigative' mentality. 

I know the security and access controls people like to stay a solid 15 years in the past, but this stuff is coming, its improving exponentially and IS going to eliminate a ton of human error, hardware and delay to actions.

We had a nice deep meeting with a company doing JUST this who has raised something like $15M in VC funding. This is not a pipe dream, but what will be readily available at around $15/mo/cam in their particular model. We are sitting down this week to extrapolate the staffing, HR, payroll and Incident response impacts. 

MC

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New systems are starting to use deep learning and cloud based AI training to eliminate false positives while implementing predictive analytics and JIT reactions as opposed to a reactive 'investigative' mentality.

Axis does not have this. When do they do, they should market it.

We had a nice deep meeting with a company doing JUST this who has raised something like $15M in VC funding.

Verkada? Who? There are a limited number of companies in this space raising such money.

I am not discounting this is coming but a company who just raised $15 million in VC funding is still (in this industry) years from having a mature enterprise offering.

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I agree Axis doesn't have this, it was more a general state of the future of the industry statement. :) 

I cant break NDA, but no not them. Also, they are currently installing these systems in enormous enterprise environments like NFL stadiums and citywide surveillance… seems pretty enterprise ready to me. 

The live system we were evaluating had around 1500 endpoints. they have been implemented for over a year, have lowered false positives by 80% from a starting 97% success rate. They have had ONE missed incident in the year and that ended up being a human error where the person misreacted to the incident. 

Just saying... this isn't a decade away, its a 2020 thing. 

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Your NDA covers you mentioning their name? That's atypical.

have lowered false positives by 80% from a starting 97% success rate.

What does 97% success rate mean? 3 out of every 100 people that pass by generate false alerts or? In an NFL stadium that would be a massive number of false alerts.

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For a startup in stealth, yes, the company name could be under the NDA.

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"Edge analytics are the thing that is going to eliminate the need for VMS systems to a large degree along with eliminating the need for humans sitting and ineffectually 'monitoring' video streams."

you are conflating two different things into one position statement.

"eliminating the need for humans sitting and ineffectually 'monitoring' video streams" - is an obvious and pretty-well uncontested viewpoint (i.e. most would agree).

"Edge analytics are the thing that is going to eliminate the need for VMS systems" - is a conclusion not as easily argued based on what analytics do vs what a VMS does (i.e. I think most people would not agree). 

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I think they meant to say "No one can buy our cameras.... becasue they are out of stock constantly".

 

But in all reality, you need a system or solution.  Since Axis usually sells cameras and not end-to-end solutions, it may be hard for them to get out there and sell "just cameras".

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I wish they could just sell me a camera 

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Axis has a huge issue. They don't have kit to ship. When you get it it doesn't work or it breaks in a few months.. 

You can buy Chinese kit for half the price, its in stock and it works, if you get an issue they sort it super fast. 

Is Chinese kit perfect no but neither is Axis and you don't need to pay more for it...

 

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This is what philosophers call a 'deepity':

The term refers to a statement that is apparently profound but actually asserts a triviality on one level and something meaningless on another. Generally, a deepity has (at least) two meanings: one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless and would be "earth-shattering" if true.

lol.

fwiw, I were a philosopher I might observe that the statement “No one wants to buy a camera.” is actually trivially untrue, since many people want to buy a camera.  

Compare with “The camera is just one part of a security system”.  In this case we have a undeniable simple truth (it is one part), coupled with a deeper questionable interpretation (it is no more important than any other part to the whole).

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To be (a camera), or not to be (a camera)? That is the question:

Whether tis nobler in the lens to suffer

The wide dynamic range of outrageous fortune,

Or to take imagers against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them......

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Axis needs to get back to being good at cameras.  Quit pretending to be some great software company - they aren't.  You want good software - buy some software companies.  This stupid P3225-LVE failure bug has cost us 30 hours of 'free' repairs on newly installed systems.  Camera just dies.  Axis has had more and more bugs along with shortages.

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We have tested Axis edge analytics and they are not very good. And while Axis has nearly a decade leading building an app store for edge analytics (i.e., ACAP), that too has languished.

I would love to see their other edge based analytics tested.  Their line queue, people counting, occupancy, demographic, etc.  I've used them in recently and have had mixed results based off of where the cameras were installed.  One installation I was able to do fresh, and had great success, the other, installed at in existing location and was barely able to get the accuracy to 80%.

 

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Wow, is this off base............. Obviously, IPVM was not represented at the recent ACCC event with 2 full days of networking, strategy, road mapping, statistics and new product announcements (lots of marketing). What are you talking about, am I missing something?

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Frank, thanks for your first comment!

I am sure ACCC was well put together. For marketing, I am talking about bigger picture / broader marketing - How they announce things, how they communicate on social media, their own website, emails, publications, etc. And more broadly, what they communicate. It's a mess and, again, while I am sure ACCC was nice for the small number of people there, it does not reflect their broader / bigger industry issues in their marketing.

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While I agree that it is a shallow approach to the market to accept that someone is only looking to buy a camera, leading with "analytics" can also be a misleading approach.  The area of analytics encompasses everything from the simple (trip wire) to the more advanced (object identification).  The disparity of performance from one company touting analytics to another is too great to be able to determine which manufacturer's software is actually best for a given application.  To top that, the reliability factor from the same application varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.  The field of analytics hasn't been researched and documented for the benefit of the market to the same extent that camera technology has, for example.  A particular user in the market can be taken in by claims of a manufacturer without any real basis of performance comparison.

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I may have missed something... Where does Axis say this? looked to me that it was written by someone writing a tech article in a magazine/e-zine

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Someone = Alex Walthers is the business development manager, Application Development Partner Program at Axis Communications Inc.

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looked to me that it was written by someone writing a tech article in a magazine/e-zine

#15, thanks for asking. As #16 said it was an Axis BD manager.

The way these things work with manufacturers is that the manufacturer approves/ submits these articles to trade magazines. It can be bylined by different people but these are submissions on the behalf of the company.

I actually became aware of it when a senior manager at Axis promoted it on social media.

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Axis shot themselves in their own foot. Just before the Chinese came marching they rejigged their partner levels, Kicking out long term loyal partners to silver or just "partner" level ( which gives you nothing ). Also, support took a nosedive as did overall reliability. For example, 9 cameras installed additionally to a site, 7 failed in the first couple of months. No advance replacement just repair, UPS'ed back to Hungry. These cameras have been bouncing back on repair every few months. The customer was hacked off beyond belief.

The same customer uses Hik and has no issues, it's the 3rd of the price.

Companion series if compatible could have fought back as an option. But Axis don't appear to care or listen, unfortunately, they have just become a project lead company.

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