How to Win Deals with Megapixel Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 22, 2009

Megapixel cameras are the key to fast growth and high profits in the face of the recession. If you are in the video surveillance business, it is imperative that you focus on selling megapixel solutions. While it is common knowledge that megapixel is the fastest growing segment in the industry, it is important to understand why that is and how you can benefit.

In the professional section, we examine:

  • The business case for megapixel cameras
  • The best way to sell megapixel
  • Projects and applications to focus on and those to avoid
  • Specific products to consider including 3 top manufacturers
  • Plus provides access to the 19 page 2009 megapixel product comparison report

Business Case for Megapixel

The business case for megapixel cameras is examined in depth in the first section of the 2009 Megapixel Camera Comparison Report. Please read the 4 page section before continuing.

In that report, we covered the two main ways to sell megapixel - cutting cameras or increasing resolution.

The Best Way to Sell Megapixel

In today's market, the best way to sell megapixel cameras is as a hard cost reduction tool. Pressure on budgets are high and will certainly continue to increase. Companies may be concerned about crime but most companies are more concerned about reducing costs so that they can get through the recession.

Experienced security sales people know that nothing is as powerful in a security sale as being able to reduce the cost of the proposal. Pitching image quality and future-proofing may sound nice but being able to obtain a 10-30% cost advantage will win most deals.

As an analogy, people complain about wireless video surveillance all the time but customers go to it again and again for one reason: Wireless is a lot cheaper for many applications that would otherwise require trenching. I am not suggesting that megapixel has similar problems to wireless. However, I am recommending that you focus on applications that cut costs even if the quality is not as perfect as you may get with dozens of analog or standard definition cameras.

Shouldn't I Sell What the Customer Needs?

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I am not suggesting you mis-design systems simply to cut costs. There are going to be applications that clearly benefit from using standard definition cameras or where the customer wants to use megapixel even though it increases costs.

My advice is about focusing your marketing resources and targeting efforts. Applications where you can cut hard costs are going to be much more likely to buy from you, especially considering how limited the number of competitors for megapixel are currently (Only 3% of all camera sales are megapixel and the overwhelming majority of integrators do not sell megapixel today). And because you are likely to come in with a lower cost proposal, you should be able to increase your margins (for instance, the megapixel camera manufacturers have some of the most lucrative profit margins in the industry).

Good and Bad Fits for Cutting Costs with Megapixel

Here's the #1 target application for megapixel cameras:

  • Large, outdoor areas with streetlighting

Why? You want large areas (acres or hundreds of square meters) so you can eliminate multiple traditional cameras with a single 3 or 5MP camera. You want outdoor areas because infrastructure costs are high here. Cutting down cameras, therefore, not only means reducing cameras costs but the generally far more expensive outdoor infrastructure costs. Streetlighing is important because megapixel does not do well is very low light conditions.

In larger areas, the traditional surveillance design is either:
  • PTZs, even though you only can only record where the PTZ is currently aiming
  • Multiple Fixed cameras targeted at the most important locations
  • Areas are left without any surveillance coverage

Probably, the most common design is using PTZs and accepting lots of uncovered or undercovered areas. Eliminating PTZs can be quite attractive in this economy. Outdoor PTZs can run $3,000 USD or higher, twice or three times the cost of a 3MP camera.  Of course, a PTZ will not let you cover as much ground theoretically. However, wherever the 3MP camera is aimed will guarantee coverage of that area - a claim the PTZ could never make.

Examples of good fits:
  • Parking Lots
  • Outdoor courtyards
  • Shopping Malls
  • Parks / Community Pools
  • Train Stations

The reality is there are a lot of applications that you can easily spot simply driving down the street.

What if they need indoor cameras too?

The outdoor coverage needs to be of a central importance to the client. As long as that is the case, you can also use standard definition cameras indoors as well. What's key is that the customer sees the outdoor coverage as a critical element, financially and operationally to their decision.

Recommended Products

While there are a variety of megapixel product options on the market, I see three top choices for delivering cost-cutting megapixel solutions:
  • Mobotix cameras + Mobotix video management
  • Avigilon cameras + Avigilon video management
  • Arecont H.264 cameras + Exacq video management

My criteria for these choices is (1) total cost reduction and (2) simplicity of deployment. If you are an integrator and do not already have a 'lead' IP line, you should consider one of these three. I think you could be successful with any of them, however each has some limitations which are noted.

Mobotix

For an extensive review of Mobotix, see my analysis on Mobotix's product line.

For total cost reduction, the most important element of Mobotix is that the VMS software is free and you can record directly to a NAS device, eliminating servers and more expensive SANs. With this, you can reduce the cost between $300 - $600 per camera, compared to mainstream IP systems. The savings are significant.

Beyond that, Mobotix is a well respected product, especially for night time viewing, where it offers one of the few dual imager megapixel cameras. Mobotix also has its own CODEC (which is significantly more efficient than MJPEG but not as much as H.264)

The main limitation of Mobotix is that the cost savings are primarily achieved from using Mobotix's own VMS and their own cameras. If you want or need to use a third party system, the savings are substantially reduced.

Avigilon

For an extensive review of Avigilon, see my analysis on Avigilon's product line. See a demo of their cameras.

Avigilon offers a broad range of megapixel cameras for use with Avigilon's VMS. Their cameras are quite inexpensively priced and the cameras are optimized for use with their video management system. They use JPEG2000 codec that allows for optimized low-bandwidth remote viewing and periodic frame dropping to reduce storage consumption.

The main limitation of Avigilon is using 3rd party cameras or VMS. Avigilon's cameras can only be used with Avigilon's VMS. Avigilon VMS is scheduled to add support for 3rd party cameras soon but it is not currently available.

Arecont H.264 + Exacq

Arecont Vision is the only manufacturer who offers H.264 for cameras over 2MP/1080 resolution (Arecont has 3 and 5MP box and dome H.264 cameras). H.264 significantly reduces storage costs (a key limitation in traditional megapixel camera usage). Arecont's cameras also tend to be quite inexpensive (though many question their reliability).

The biggest concern with H.264 is the impact it has on CPU usage for recording and monitoring. For instance, Milestone reports that H.264 doubles CPU use for their recording servers as well as client application. This could significantly increase hardware costs and limit what PCs can view cameras using H.264. However, Milestone (like many VMS manufacturers), performs motion detection in the recording software. 

Exacq is a good choice for a VMS system to use with Exacq. Exacq is well respected amongst traditional security integrators for their easy setup, inexpensive pricing and hybrid DVR/NVR appliances they offer. Equally important, Exacq does not do motion detection in its recorders (it depends on the cameras to do so). This is beneficial for use with Arecont's H.264 cameras.

The main limitation compared to Avigilon or Mobotix is that this solution may not be as low of cost. However, the upside is that Exacq supports many of the leading IP camera vendors providing a more open solution.

What about Axis and IQinVision?

Axis and IQinVision are well respected manufacturers of high quality products. However, Axis and IQinVision's products are not as strong a fit for reducing hard costs. Both manufacturers tend to be more expensive than the providers listed above plus Axis has a narrow selection of multi-megapixel cameras. The most important reason to use Axis or IQinVision is if to use other video management platforms (Genetec, Milestone, Verint, etc.). Axis and IQinVision are supported by almost every VMS provider so they provide a more open platform than Mobotix or Avigilon.

Conclusion

The recession is bound to put even more pressures on businesses globally. The best option for video surveillance businesses is to adopt megapixel cameras as a means to reduce costs for video surveillance deployments.

5 reports cite this report:

2010 Spring Surveillance Trends on Apr 01, 2010
Emerging from ISC West, a number of clear trends will likely impact purchasing decisions over the next 12 months. In this premium report, we...
Megapixel Camera Comparison 2010 on Feb 22, 2010
Megapixel cameras are clearly 'hot' - the fastest growing segment in the industry for multiple years now. Which should you use? What makes one...
Readers Respond: 134 Votes, 25 Comments Examined on Feb 14, 2010
Over 100 people voted and more than 25 left detailed comments to our recent question/discussion. In this post, we review and respond to the...
HDcctv: Non-IP Megapixel Coming to Video Surveillance? on May 16, 2009
Will non-IP cameras soon provide megapixel resolution? It sounds strange and almost a contradiction in terms. Today, only IP cameras provide...
Challenges in Choosing Surveillance Cameras on May 10, 2009
With hundreds of manufacturers to choose from and little comparative information available, choosing the 'right' surveillance camera can be...

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