Axis Pitches ADI Installers

By Brian Rhodes, Published Mar 03, 2013, 07:00pm EST

ADI installers typically serve smaller cost conscious security customers. While Axis has become a major force in high end surveillance, it has historically struggled to win over ADI installers' core customer base. We recently visited an ADI expo where Axis pitched a group of installers. This note details Axis's pitch, installers' feedback and our analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.

Axis Pitch to ADI

Interestingly, Axis did not speak strongly against analog, but rather focused on the benefits of IP cameras for small deployments. Axis acknowledged that pricing has excluded IP from smaller projects, but that pricing does not necessarily equal 'value'. The presenters acknowledged that most small systems are analog, but a significant factor was not understanding IP's benefits.

Specifically, the pitch led with the benefits of Axis "covert and custom" applications:

The "covert" pitch emphasised the P12 and its potential uses, from ATM surveillance, to clothes rack/merchandise floor applications. The presenters showed a P12 promotional video to illustrate the point.

Axis also referenced their M5014 PTZ and M3007-P fisheye cameras as examples of discreet surveillance, citing the units as easy to hide and blend into surrounding fixtures, but flexible positioning and wide viewing ranges worth multiple fixed analog CCTV cameras.

The "custom" pitch touched on these key points:

  • Axis cameras are "Smarter"
  • PoE decreases Install/Cabling Costs
  • Migration is Easy
  • Axis Competes on Cost

Axis cameras are "Smarter": The presenters emphasised the value of ACAP, and how using Axis products allow end-users to write analytics to the edge without additional hardware.

PoE decreases Install/Cabling Costs: Axis touted most of its cameras supporting PoE as a cost benefit, stating that delivering power over the same cable as data eliminates power wiring, installation labor, and excluding additional power supplies off the project BOM.

Migration is Easy (Encoders): Acknowledging that some end users are unwilling to just "throw out" a capital investment in analog equipment and cabling, the presenters described Axis' range of encoder options and (North American/Channel Partner) encoder buyback program [link no longer available] to incentivize a planned, even migration to IP without loosing the invested value in analog systems.

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Axis Competes on Cost: Axis polled the room on the significant barrier to moving IP, and the strongest response was "cost". They agreed that IP is traditionally expensive, but made a case of why that has changed. With the release of Axis Camera Companion, small systems are able to eliminate the cost of the DVR and use the camera to manage video. When using ACC, Axis emphasized that a single vendor solution 'means one throat to choke', and that having an end-to-end Axis solution results in more efficient tech support and system uptime than one composed of pieces from different vendors.

When the presenter shifted focus to the "next tier" of VMS solution (AVHS), the attendees received the information. Despite the subscription-based pricing structure of AVHS offering dealer RMR, the audience quickly returned to asking questions about the free ACC solution.

Installer Feedback

The strongest objections raised during the presentation were high price, with several installers noting that many Axis cameras were priced above entire 'box system' kits sold at wholesale clubs. This objection was mainly raised as a difficulty in justifying IP to end users, not to the installers themselves. The Axis presenters countered pricing objections on grounds of performance and value, saying that comparing professional surveillance devices like an Axis camera should not be compared with cheap consumer-grade DIY kits and the video quality, device reliability, and dealer support is incomparable.

A few dealers objected to having to learn IP, suggesting that it represented a large departure in configuration and design compared to traditional CCTV systems. There were no hard rebuttals to this point, though Axis earlier touted their training offerings.

The product offering the attendees showed most interest, by far, was Axis Camera Companion, their free, serverless VMS offering. Whether it was the original intent of the presenters or not, the continued questions about the solution dominated the audience questions, and even resulted in the presenter passing around his personal iPad demonstrating his household's Camera Companion deployment.

Questions on Camera Companion ranged from high level features questions - "How advanced is Motion Detection Support?" to detailed discussions of storage capacity - "64GB max in SDXC storage per camera." Based on installer questions and interest, ACC was a clear differentiator from analog based systems. 

[Note: Axis said that two dealers approached the speaker after the presentation privately to ask about AVHS.]

Two amusing sidenotes: Whenever an attendee raised an objection or countered with a negative, Axis would dig into the stash of trinkets and reward the person with thumb drives, laptop mice, or pens. Despite the nominal value, this had the net effect of turning 'negatives' into 'positives', and by the end of the presentation, the installers attending seemed to be largely 'pro Axis' regardless of their deeper concerns about IP.

The Axis representative said "Despite what you've read in the media, Axis does not aim to kill VMS or it's ADP Partners" while looking directly at IPVM. This was clarified by mentioning Camera Companion was only the entry element in a range of VMS options, and that "traditional" VMS partners offer products with features and abilities beyond what Camera Companion provides. The presenters mentioned that products from partners like Milestone, OnSSI, and Exacq (note: ADI brands) all fit into the Axis deployment ecosystem.

IPVM's Analysis

Unsurprisingly, cost is a huge concern for this market segment with these installers having to justify professional solutions against warehouse retailer kits. While Axis has vastly expanded its lower cost offerings in the past few years, it is still not easy. The installer's reactions reinforce our belief that Axis's best bet is the combination of low cost HD camera (M30/M10) with the serverless Camera Companion offering.

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