Examining Cisco's Defense of their Video Surveillance Strategy

By: John Honovich, Published on Sep 22, 2009

Let's examine the validity of Cisco's numerous responses and public statements defending the Pelco deal and their general video surveillance strategy.

There are 3 responses - a comment from Cisco on our Failure report, trade magazine listing Cisco's Vision and a video interview with a Cisco Director. From these 3 sources, here are Cisco's key claims:

  • "Cisco's physec business is growing strongly."
  • "The Pelco relationship allows us to rapidly expand our IP HD camera line with industry leading technology." 
  • "This industry is all about partnerships."
  • Cisco's "value proposition is to use the network as a platform to deliver multiple applications to the market"
  • On why Cisco selected Pelco: Pelco is the leader in "physical security systems"
  • Cisco has a bigger vision including integrating systems's together
  • Cisco is "putting efforts in its labs" to enable accessing IP cameras from phones
  • Cisco's long term vision  is to be a major manufacturer of video cameras but "You can’t just snap your fingers and become a major manufacturer of video surveillance hardware. Bill says before they could ever become a major player they have to deal with manufacturing issues like enclosures, the optics, etc."
  • Cisco will be pursuing both the physical security and IT channels
Let's examine each point, one by one:
  • "Cisco's physec business is growing strongly." Cisco could sell ice to eskimos. I mean this as a compliment. Cisco has an incredible channel program and huge global presence. However, the issue for Cisco is not whether it can sell tens of millions of dollars in video surveillance products through that channel but whether Cisco can truly be innovative and bring better video surveillance products with greater value.
  • "The Pelco relationship allows us to rapidly expand our IP HD camera line with industry leading technology."  Pelco's cameras are not Cisco's cameras. Where is the innovation in 'co-branding"? And adding in Cisco IP functionality is not a major benefit for IP cameras beyond what Pelco could develop on its own. We examine below the claims to Cisco's future IP networking contribution to Pelco's cameras.
  • "This industry is all about partnerships." This is an atypical partnership in the IP video market. Usually partnerships are about technology support, not re-selling other companies products. It would be like Milestone announcing they are going to re-sell Axis cameras and add support for Milestone's VMS inside the camera. What value would that add? Even if Cisco did not OEM Pelco's cameras, any buyer could still buy Pelco cameras directly and use them with their VMS if they wanted.
  • Cisco's "value proposition is to use the network as a platform to deliver multiple applications to the market". This is not a value proposition but Cisco's business strategy. It is a critical difference and at the core of why physical security buyers are generally unimpressed with Cisco's offering. To the physical security buyer, using the network as a platform has no direct benefit. It's why mature physical security companies focus their value proposition on things like improving investigations, stopping criminals in the act, improving evidence quality, etc.
  • On why Cisco selected Pelco: Pelco is the leader in "physical security systems" Pelco may be the leader in physical security systems (depending on how you define it) but they are nowhere close to being the leader in IP cameras. That is clearly Axis with a strong case to be made that Sony, Panasonic, Mobotix, IQinVision and ArecontVision are also ahead of Pelco. The practical consequence is that sophisticated buyers will recognize this and may want better and likely cheaper cameras than Cisco branded Sarix cameras.
  • Cisco has a bigger vision including integrating systems's together. Ok but what product offering does Cisco has that makes them a leader in PSIM?
  • Cisco is "putting efforts in its labs" to enable accessing IP cameras from phones. Yes but there are a half dozen companies already doing this with deployed support for all Cisco's VMS rivals.
  • "You can’t just snap your fingers and become a major manufacturer of video surveillance hardware ... have to deal with manufacturing issues like enclosures, the optics, etc." Yes but that's the opposite of what Cisco assumed 3 years ago. Indeed, Cisco did try to make their own IP cameras and evidently failed. Furthermore, most of the innovation in "network cameras" comes from the camera side - higher resolution, better low light imaging and dynamic range, compact form factors. 
  • Cisco will be pursuing both the physical security and IT channels. This is a recognition of failure of their original premise that they could dominate through their IT channels. Moreover, the physical security channel has no loyalty to Cisco, little experience and not much cultural similarities to Cisco. Plus, the physical security channel tends to be very price sensitive. It's a bad idea for Cisco to go after the physical security channel and a sign of desperation.

[Update: The Cisco / Pelco partnership was unsuccessful and has been discontinued.]

1 report cite this report:

Cisco Admits Failure, Partners with Pelco (v2) on Sep 20, 2009
Less than 3 years ago, Cisco threatened the physical security industry with disruption and innovation. Spending more than $100 Million USD, Cisco...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Axis Perimeter Defender Improves, Yet Worse Than Dahua and Wyze on Sep 19, 2019
While Axis Perimeter Defender analytics improved from our 2018 testing, the market has improved much faster, with much less expensive offerings...
Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Vivotek "Neural Network-Powered Detection Engine" Analytics Tested on Sep 17, 2019
Vivotek has released "a neural network-powered detection engine", named Smart Motion Detection, claiming that "swaying vegetation, vehicles passing...
Panasonic 4K Camera Tested (WV-S2570L) on Sep 13, 2019
Panasonic has released their latest generation 4K dome, the WV-S2570L, claiming "Extreme image quality allows evidence to be captured even under...
Genetec Stratocast VSaaS Tested on Sep 05, 2019
The VSaaS market is rapidly expanding in 2019, with Verkada, Meraki, Eagle Eye, Avigilon and numerous startups growing their market share. When we...
Scylla AI Video Analytics Company Profile on Aug 29, 2019
Scylla, an AI analytics startup, says they are targeting 1 Billion dollar valuation in 5 years and it "is not rocket science" to detect weapons and...
Uniview Pro 4K Camera Tested (IPC3238ER3-DVZ) on Aug 29, 2019
In our 8MP / 4K Fixed Lens Camera Shootout, Uniview's low end 8MP was firmly in the middle of the pack. Does their higher end Pro Series 4K camera...
Warning: Windows 7 Update Crashing NVRs on Aug 26, 2019
Windows 7 updates are causing VMS servers to fail to boot. After running the update, impacted systems do not boot as normal, instead display this...
Critical Vulnerability Across 18+ Network Switch Vendors: Cisco, Netgear, More on Aug 26, 2019
Cisco, Netgear and more than a dozen other brands, including small Asian ones, have been found to share the same critical vulnerability, discovered...
Anyvision Facial Recognition Tested on Aug 21, 2019
Anyvision is aiming for $1 billion in revenue by 2022, backed by $74 million in funding. But does their performance live up to the hype they have...

Most Recent Industry Reports

ONVIF Suspends Huawei on Sep 20, 2019
Huawei has been 'suspended', and effectively expelled, from ONVIF so long as US sanctions remain on the mega Chinese manufacturer. Inside this...
Open Access Controller Guide (Axis, HID, Isonas, Mercury) on Sep 19, 2019
In the access control market, there are many software platforms, but only a few companies that make non-proprietary door controllers. Recently,...
Axis Perimeter Defender Improves, Yet Worse Than Dahua and Wyze on Sep 19, 2019
While Axis Perimeter Defender analytics improved from our 2018 testing, the market has improved much faster, with much less expensive offerings...
Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Uniview Prime Series 4K Camera Tested on Sep 18, 2019
Is the new Uniview 'Prime' better than the more expensive existing Uniview 'Pro'? In August, IPVM tested Uniview 4K 'Pro' but members advocated...
US Army Base To Buy Banned Honeywell Surveillance on Sep 17, 2019
The U.S. Army's Fort Gordon, home to their Cyber Center of Excellence, has issued a solicitation to purchase Honeywell products that are US...
Vivotek "Neural Network-Powered Detection Engine" Analytics Tested on Sep 17, 2019
Vivotek has released "a neural network-powered detection engine", named Smart Motion Detection, claiming that "swaying vegetation, vehicles passing...
Schmode is Back, Aims To Turn Boulder AI Into Giant on Sep 16, 2019
One of the most influential and controversial executives in the past decade is back. Bryan Schmode ascended and drove the hypergrowth of Avigilon...
Manufacturers Unhappy With Weak ASIS GSX 2019 And 2020 Shift on Sep 16, 2019
Manufacturers were generally unhappy with ASIS GSX, both for weak 2019 booth traffic and a scheduling shift for the 2020 show, according to a new...