Canon "Deepening Cooperation" Between Axis, Briefcam, and Milestone

By John Honovich, Published Jan 25, 2021, 08:21am EST (Info+)

Canon has declared that it is "deepening cooperation" between the 3 video surveillance companies it has acquired over the past 6 plus years (Milestone - 2014, Axis - 2015, Briefcam - 2018).

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But what does that mean? Canon, Axis, and Briefcam explained to IPVM what it means from each of their perspectives and we examine what the impact of this is.

Executive *******

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Axis ********

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**** ***** **** * ********* **** for ***** ************? ** *** ** evidence.

Comments (22)

Does Canon have a strategic plan for video surveillance? We see no evidence.

I want to elaborate on the final statement of the post as I am hoping to hear other's feedback.

By strategic plan, I mean an ability to deal with competitive forces and new technologies. Surely, Canon has some form of a 'plan', even if it is just a plan to make money (targeting X revenue and Y EBITDA), etc.

However, unless they have a strategic plan that factors in how new technology shifts power, the Canon companies could deliver on revenue and EBITDA for the next few years while the entity's competitive positioning declines sharply.

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it has acquired over the past 6 plus years (Milestone - 2014, Axis - 2015, Briefcam - 2018

We see little positive impact of the Canon deal outside of letting the acquired companies being left to do what they want for years to come.

However, this makes Canon not much different than a financial acquirer, like a private equity firm.

Does Canon have a strategic plan for video surveillance? We see no evidence.

These are conflicting statements. PE firms and hedge funds invariably have a strategic plan and don't collect companies and leave them to their own devices for over six years.

A PE firm or hedge fund acquirer would have done something by now, e.g. replace a CEO, name some of their people to the board of directors, cut costs, pump in capital to expand ops, push the acquired company into a new market, merger, divestiture, et cetera.

In the case of Canon, if none of the above has occurred for Milestone or Axis since 2015, then Canon definitely didn't acquire these companies using rationale similar to that of an investment firm.

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PE firms and hedge funds invariably have a strategic plan

By strategic, I mean in relation to the acquirer. Take Motorola and Pelco. Motorola has a strategic plan, they are bringing Pelco within Motorola, changing go to market (dropping rep firms), engineering, etc. It might be a good plan, it might be a bad plan but Motorola did not buy Pelco and say "Hey Pelco, keep doing what you are doing". For example, Motorola has been explicit that it is going to try to cross sell Pelco's government customers to other Motorola's products (like radios or Avigilon, etc.).

Regardless, though, the question - what is Canon's plan? It is now nearly 7 years since Canon acquired Milestone and it is not clear that Canon has any meaningful plan.

Again, maybe Canon gives these companies revenue and profitability targets but that's not a real long term strategic plan. Does that make sense?

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Canon could take their brand, apply it to all as BOSCH did to DS, Radionics and Philips to create a unified force.

The risk is losing loyalty in the dealer channel, end users as well as positioning in the open market of mutual partnerships in technology.

This delay can be seen as a fear to challenge the status quo, a lack of vision or leaving an exit strategy that doesn’t damage the brand.

If you never take the leap as they say.

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There are some legitimate complaints that you can throw out about Axis....

Moreover, the companies continue to have conflicting strategies, most notably Axis who again has more aggressively pushed end to end solutions, including VMSes that conflict with Milestone (and Axis' legion of VMS partners).

But that ain't one of them.

Nothing about Axis' end-to-end "solutions" meaningfully competes with the offering of any of their VMS partners.

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Nothing about Axis' end-to-end "solutions" meaningfully competes with the offering of any of their VMS partners

So you are insulting Axis' VMS? ;)

To be clear, I don't disagree with your 'meaningfully competes' position in the sense that I would struggle to find why people should use Axis Camera Station instead of Milestone, Genetec, or any number of other systems.

My point, Axis does believe and does, at various times, advocate the use of its VMS over its partners. Does that make sense?

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So you are insulting Axis' VMS? ;)

Uh...yes. We recommend a boatload of their products, and their VMS is hot garbage.

To be clear, I don't disagree with your 'meaningfully competes' position in the sense that I would struggle to find why people should use Axis Camera Station instead of Milestone, Genetec, or any number of other systems.

My point, Axis does believe and does, at various times, advocate the use of its VMS over its partners. Does that make sense?

Your point makes sense, but I don't know that I have ever encountered an Axis rep even mentioning camera station, much less recommending it over another platform. I work with Axis reps literally all over the country and even a few globally, and it's never come up in discussion a single time.

My feeling is that it's there to ensure that there is an option for them to sell their hardware, but nothing more. They certainly don't make it a central option, or put enough features in it to compete with even the bottom-of-the-barrel VMS platforms.

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Ask your AXIS rep how much they sold to Stater Bros in Camera Manager.

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Uh...yes. We recommend a boatload of their products, and their VMS is hot garbage.

UI #2 can you provide some feedback on why you feel the Axis VMS is garbage? A small subset of my team loves the product. For the life of me I cannot figure out why other than it is an "easy button" when buying Axis cameras. I have only utilized it once with one camera. The experience was positive but limited. I would be interested in hearing more from you.

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I should probably clarify...

I classify their VMS as garbage relative to...basically every other VMS on the market. The overall functionality is simply not there. That said, in my experience, it DOES "work". It's fine. It will do the bare-bones basics that is required of a video system for some people, but it does NOT compare to a full-fledged VMS from basically any manufacturer.

And, to be clear -- I don't necessarily blame Axis for that, because I don't think that's their goal. I think their goal is to give people an option for a very bare-bones system that goes along with their (generally fantastic) cameras...and they very specifically do NOT want to compete with their VMS partners. Any amount of money that they could make from selling any quantity of their own in-house VMS will be absolutely dwarfed by the loss of revenue from any of their VMS partners who get a burr under their saddle because Axis is pushing their own solution a bit too hard.

So yeah...for use in someone's home? It might be fine. For any commercial use outside of supervising a hot dog stand? I don't think I'd recommend it.

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Any amount of money that they could make from selling any quantity of their own in-house VMS will be absolutely dwarfed by the loss of revenue from any of their VMS partners who get a burr under their saddle because Axis is pushing their own solution a bit too hard.

This part I disagree with since Axis is and continues to promote this. To your point, I think Axis is sophisticated enough that they don't try to undermine Milestone et al in accounts where those VMSes are strong but if the end user is open to Axis and Axis has lead positioning, Axis definitely pushes ACS.

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Indeed, my point is if those VMS platforms would feel Milestone with a low cost offering of Briefcam tightly integrated and packaged with free channel licenses for AXIS products would cause a concern?

That would be a concern of competitive VMS and camera manufacturers. It might make you want to partner with BOSCH as a VMS or Genetec as a camera manufacturer.

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This was inevitable. It is most likely the beginning of a sort of merger of the companies under Canon. It will take years to move forward, but it will. Japanese companies are very patient when it comes to these things. Their business plans are much more macro focused than most American companies.

It will take a while to prove me right or wrong, but I bet in the next 5-10 years we see a more tightly coupled video surveillance offering under Canon.

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Japanese companies are very patient when it comes to these things

I've been lectured many times about Canon's "100 year plan" etc. but I don't understand why 'patience' is a virtue in such things. Timing is a huge part of being successful for companies - too early and you have a decade of pain (like Briefcam did), too late and you have lost.

If (and I don't know if Canon will do this) but if Canon plans to merge them in 5 to 10 years, I am pretty confident that it will be way too late and that competitors will have already taken the majority of value in the market.

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I’m not saying that patience is a virtue in this case - just that it exists. I honestly don’t know which is better - but they have some great companies/products to work with as they move forward.

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I read that statement as marketing-based filler language for a corporate statement geared towards shareholders. As such, along with most other Corp Statements geared towards investors, its just bullshit. Also, as Ive stated before on this site, the interrelationships in a Large corporation with many competing (or even complimentary) holdings and/or divisions never goes well. Its the "middle child in a household of 9 kids" environment. They rarely compliment each other, they fight more than they hug, they rarely get along really well, and the parents are too stressed trying to make money to pay enough attention or to care.

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In other words, Axis and Milestone will keep doing what they're doing, but Canon is hoping they'll help Briefcam out some more. That's my guess, anyway.

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Didn’t BOSCH and Genetec just do a big announcement together?

Together in Crime

Doesn’t BOSCH push BVMS and their storage solutions?

Cannon could take the risk with Milestone and AXIS, double the sales force and increase sales. Offer free camera licenses as others have done.

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Milestone has similar initiatives with Bosch. It depends where you are worldwide, but generally in my experience Bosch does not push BVMS very hard compared to working with Genetec, Milestone, and others.

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I would say it’s “opportunistic” as an approach. For those dealers or sites that don’t match up with Genetec.

It’s still a significant amount of revenue.

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No mention of Arcules?

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Don, no Canon did not mention Arcules in that communication, though I am sure Canon wants Arcules to grow and Arcules clearly collaborates with Axis and Milestone.

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