Cernium Shifts Strategy Again (CheckVideo)

By John Honovich, Published Aug 30, 2012, 12:00am EDT

Every 2 years, Cernium changes strategies in an increasingly desperate attempt to find a viable business model and product offering. This year, Cernium has become CheckVideo, aggregating every industry buzzword into a single offering - a cloud, megapixel, video analytic, edge storage, remotely monitored, RMR generating service. In this note, we examine the shift in strategy and how likely the latest iteration is to lead to success.

A History of Cernium Shifts

Here's the 4 key Cernium shifts since ~2005:

  • Enterprise Analytic Enabled DVR - The first version of Perceptrak combined video analytics and a DVR into a single appliance. Upside was that this eliminated integration complexity but the downside was most users either had or wanted their own DVR/VMS.
  • Enterprise Analytics Only - The second version of Perceptrak only performed analytics, dropping recording and redesigned to integrate with third-party recorders [link no longer available] (most notably Milestone). This allowed Cernium to complement larger providers. However, the fragmented recorder market and analytic performance issues restricted adoption.
  • Consumer All in One Kit - Next, Cernium shifted direction 180 degrees, with their Archerfish video monitoring system for the residential / SOHO markets. However, the system suffered from poor performance, unrealistic installation restrictions, and mostly bad reviews.
  • Monitored Analytics - Now, Cernium is CheckVideo, offering cameras and encoders that connect to 3rd party central monitoring stations.

According to Cernium, Perceptrak is no longer being offered and while Archerfish is still available for sale, the focus is now on CheckVideo.

Potential for CheckVideo

By far, CheckVideo has the most potential for success of anything Cernium has ever offered, though in fairness, given Cernium's poor track record, that is not saying much. Specifically, the integration to 3rd party monitoring is a key differentiator from past attempts as it makes it easier to respond, and more importantly, can help manage problems with false alerts.

The newly introduced megapixel CheckVideo cameras have more potential, though with important limitations. CheckVideo's first camera is the old Archerfish unit which should be avoided due to its poor performance. However, the more recent dome and bullet megapixel cameras are better designed for professional / enterprise use. However, Cernium reiterated that the same unrealistic installation restrictions are still in place plus the new cameras are specified to detect people up to just 40 feet from the camera, which will make covering even modestly large areas challenging.

The best case for CheckVideo will be as a mid tier alternative between Videofied and VideoIQ [link no longer available]. Like Videofied, CheckVideo may deliver a narrow detection range but add in video recording. While it may deliver far less detection range than VideoIQ's megapixel offering, CheckVideo's per camera pricing may be less. While the company remains tight lipped on exact pricing, they confirm the pricing of the megapixel bullet CV-135 to be less than $800 MSRP.

Monitoring station acceptance of CheckVideo's offerings will be a challenge. While the company's website lists a number of partner monitoring companies, they are a small segment of the highly fragmented monitoring market. In order to recieve inbound video for CheckVideo cameras, central monitoring stations must build API connectors to their monitoring platforms. Cernium suggests this is not a difficult or expensive process, but it is up to individual monitoring companies to implement. 

Challenges Ahead

Cernium's now, amazingly, 16 years old and last announced funding 5 years ago for $10 million. In 2011, the company suffered a major management shakeup. Switching brands and product focus yet again, it will be interesting to see how much time and money is left for Cernium to make it.

[UPDATE: The end arrived soon after. CheckVideo was acquired by Kastle in 2013.]

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