Dropcam First Generation 2009/2010 OverviewBy John Honovich, Published on Aug 16, 2010
In this update, we review the competitive positioning and differentiators of Dropcam, a recent entrant providing hosted video services. An AnandTech test of Dropcam provides a good overview (but poor understanding of the VSaaS marketplace).
Dropcam's approach is to use COTS IP cameras (currently from Axis - M11 series), load custom firmware and stream video to their cloud management service. Dropcam offers two camera options, both cube camera, a basic version (called 'Dropcam')and a more advanced version with audio (called 'Dropcam Echo').
The product pricing is $199 for the 'basic' Dropcam and $279 for the advanced/audio 'Echo'. Dropcam offers 3 ongoing plans. Live monitoring only is available for free (no monthly charge). For 1 week of continuous circular recording, the monthly charge is $8.95; for 1 month of such recording, the monthly charge is $24.95.
Key Product Points
The following are key features (or ommissions) in the offering:
- Maximum resolution is QVGA (320 x 240) for live and recorded video
- No local archiving is provided. All archiving is done in the cloud.
- No 3rd party camera support / no analog support
- The web UI is simple single camera viewer but has an easy to use slider for scanning through video (see demo)
- Emphasize social / sharing of video
Dropcam sells direct on the Internet under its own brand.
Compared to other market entrants, Dropcam has a very basic, limited product offering:
- Limited product options: only 2 cube cameras that are relatively expensive (though consistent with Axis prices). Most AVHS providers have a lot more options for both IP and analog encoders.
- Limited resolution: At QVGA, the maximum resolution is less than almost any other provider in the market.
- Limited scalability: With no on-site storage option, both video quality and number of cameras supported are constrained.
The two most interesting elements we find are:
- Free live monitoring: We think this will be attractive to those who just want easy remote access. However, since the resolution is relatively low and the custom firmware blocks local recording, the attractiveness of this is limited.
- Clear direct Internet sales: While a number of providers only sell through dealers or are split amongst approaches, Dropcam is focused on building a direct to end user model that might be easier and cheaper for small deployments.
We are skeptical about the utility of the current 'social' features. While it's the big buzzword of the valley currently, the benefit of their sharing video is limited (beyond easy remote access that most VSaaS providers offer).
Dropcam is receiving a solid amount of Silicon Valley coverage. While Valley comentators are impressed, such endorsements reflect poor understanding of the broad number of global competitors. It will be interesting to see how Dropcam develops and what product advantages it can achieve.