Correcting Hikvision USA's False Accusations

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 01, 2018

Hikvision USA has falsely accused IPVM's DeepInMind test.

The truth, which Hikvision USA knows, despite their statements to the contrary, is that:

  • IPVM bought Hikvision's DeepInMind unit via ADI, from a non-Hikvision partner.
  • DeepInMind has been released around the world for many months before our test.
  • IPVM repeatedly notified Hikvision management of performance problems but Hikvision refused to respond.

False Allegations

Here is what Hikvision USA alleges, by Bob Germain, Director of Product Management:

This is the Deep Learning report on IPVM that Germain mentions.

Authorized, Released ADI Purchase

Contrary to the 'fell into the hands of IPVM' claim, here is the packing slip, from Hikvision to ADI and the non-Hikvision partner we bought it from:

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And Hikvision has been selling this unit in various places around the world for many months before our test. Indeed, 2 weeks before we published this test, Hikvision USA advertised this model in the February 2018 ADI monthly sales flyer:

We waited to test until it was listed at ADI because we anticipated that Hikvision USA would use place of purchase as an excuse if the unit performed poorly. And yet, despite waiting and having to arrange to buy via ADI, Hikvision USA is still making excuses.

Contacted Hikvision Repeatedly Before Publishing

Not only did we buy a legitimate, authorized, released unit, we contacted Hikvision tech support and Hikvision senior management over and over again notifying them of the unit's poor performance and requesting their input.

I, personally, left voice mail messages with Bob Germain at least twice, so Germain knew about this and had an opportunity to respond, object or help before we published anything. Moreover, I twice texted another Hikvision USA leader asking them to respond, as the messages below show:

Hikvision USA management never responded.

The Integrity of Our Testing Is Critical To Us

We spend more time and money than anyone in the industry testing products because we care deeply about the integrity, accuracy, and fairness of our tests. We could have bought a unit off of Alibaba, booted it up, found problems and trashed them. But no. We made sure we bought it from an authorized distributor, we tested the unit over a month, trying numerous approaches, and we reached out to their tech support and management over and over.

Aim To Damage IPVM's Reputation

Instead of taking responsibility for their own problems, Hikvision USA's aim is to damage IPVM's reputation. Every company, every manufacturer makes mistakes. There is no shame in that. But ethical companies take responsibility.

Underlying Issue Is Hikvision's Chinese Government Ownership

For those unfamiliar with Hikvision, you might wonder why a company would refuse to talk about a straightforward issue like product performance problems. The answer is simple yet serious. Hikvision wants IPVM to stop reporting on Hikvision's Chinese government ownership and since we will not, Hikvision USA has instituted a ban against talking to us plus ongoing tactics of making things up to attack us.

Update May 8, 2018 Hikvision Corporate

Hikvision Corporate has responded, in full, below:

It is correct that IPVM purchased from ADI thru a non-HDP as we had released into their system. This is common practice as we sell field test units through distribution whenever possible. However, the product was coded incorrectly in ADI’s system so that a non-HDP was able to purchase it. In the Product Line News Report, we clearly stated that the products came through one of our customers. It was clearly a big mistake, as the product was not ready like IPVM's test showed. After the IPVM test was published, we realized that the ADI system coding was incorrect and it was corrected right away.

That was the only unit sold thru ADI which is shown in our POS report. Deep Learning, Thermal and HikCentral are all restricted products, which can only be sold to certified HDP members. When the IPVM test report came out, it was actually a factor in holding back the release, which is now planned to happen during the next couple of months.

In IPVM's post it is also mentioned that Hikvision USA advertised DeepInMind NVR in the February 2018 ADI monthly sales flyer. The picture shown in IPVM's article is the February Insert. It is special marketing opportunity to promote products on sale and to provide any additional information. The main part is used for “Sale items”. The end flaps are used to inform about new products, technology or programs.

These inserts are planned about 10 weeks in advance as they are part of a printed flyer. In the February Insert, we had the possibility to include the Deep Learning. Back in November 2017 that was good timing, as we had planned release in March.

Also, we would like to point out that this was purely a statement about the technology. It was not a Sale item, which ADI also require us to put their part number on for the products shown. As you can see in the ADI flyer, it is clearly stated what the customer should do: “Contact your Hikvision sales representative to learn more about these cutting edge technologies”. It is very hard to read this the way IPVM posted the snippet. Also, as this was planned two and a half months in advance, and printed prior to the February IPVM test report, there is no possible way that we could pull back the ad.

Even with the delayed release, we do not see how the ad being released despite the product release delay could be an ethical issue. The customer could still inquire with our RSM, and if they met the criteria for a field test, then we would release a unit to them. Also, Deep Learning has never been on the USA website. Admittedly, the old website was slow to be updated due to internal matters and the fact we had a new USA website in process, which was launched at ISC West.

It is quite right that IPVM called our tech support and admittedly got poor support from us. However, this should be no surprise as our tech support was not trained since the product was still pre-release. Furthermore, we failed in tech support to escalate the issue to tier 3 support. This has been addressed and will be re-addressed when we are ready to release.

As for Hikvision USA management not responding to IPVM's repeated attempts to discuss DeepInMind's problems prior to the test's publication:

It was Hikvision USA’s position not to respond and going forward Hikvision Corporate will be the primary interface for communications with IPVM.

One major issue not addressed is why DeepInMind has been sold outside of the USA for more than a half year as well as continues to be sold given that Hikvision acknowledges the 'product was not ready' and will not be released in the USA for another month or more. We have asked this to Hikvision and if they have any details to share, we will update this accordingly.

1 report cite this report:

2018 Mid-Year Surveillance Industry Guide on Jun 28, 2018
2018 has been an explosive year for the video surveillance industry, with the industry becoming a global political issue, with the expansion of...

Comments (30)

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How can Bob Germain claim this was an unreleased product when ADI had it advertised in their flyer?

Scott, thanks for the reminder! I've added that to the post as well, copied below from the Feb 2018 ADI flyer:

Horrible way for Hikvision to handle this, they are setting themselves up to look even worse when the product is eventually released, unless the performance is just absolutely stellar.

And of course IPVM will get the final released firmware, and likely test again, which just puts more pressure on Hikvision and increases the chances that they look bad in the end.

Hikvision's approach of freezing out IPVM, refusing to communicate, and then trying to tell outright lies to their partners totally undermines their efforts in the US to try and get away from the image as a direct agent of the Chinese government attempting to enter the US market.

I actually thought Germain had more integrity than that.

I actually thought Germain had more integrity than that.

I think Germain is a good man in a bad situation. He joined Hikvision 6 years ago and surely could have never imagined that Hikvision would become what it is today (both good and bad).

I still think he needs to take responsibility, like anyone, but at another company, in a less extreme environment, he would do well.

Yes, at another company he would do very well.

But he is not at another company, he is at Hikvision, putting his name on outright lies.

You are correct, he has been at Hikvision for a while now. Long enough that he knows what the company is, and is not. I hope Bob is able to maintain a long career at Hikvision because at this point he is damaging his reputation in the industry and hurting his chances of another product management position elsewhere, in my opinion.

I am a little surprised that Jeffrey He didn't take this opportunity to put his name on something they thought would discredit IPVM.

I vehemently disagree with this comment primarily because of your closing sentence:

"I still think he needs to take responsibility, like anyone, but at another company, in a less extreme environment, he would do well."

No way.

Ethics come from within - ethical behavior does not depend on whom the company is who signs your paycheck.

You either operate ethically or you do not. There is no gray area here, imo.

I don't know the guy - but based on his public slander of IPVM where he lies outright, it is clear that this is someone who never had any ethics to begin with - he was just able to hide this fact in less challenging positions.

I am saying Germain knows the industry, works hard and means well so that in a normal, non-Chinese government-owned company where he was not put into such an extremely difficult ethical position, he would do fine.

In other words, most companies do not put their employees in such a situation, in the first place.

You either operate ethically or you do not. There is no gray area here, imo.

Confucius say

It is so easy for the man who knows bit from byte to tell wrong from right,

but try working in marketing sometime ;)

Remember when Germaine would post on IPVM? I had long wondered where he disappeared to. My guess is that it was a lot easier to be front and center when the failroad still had a train on it.

This is where Hikvision seems to just not get it. They're dealing with business owners, the people who read IPVM are business owners or employees of integrators. They're not your average everyday consumer who would quickly fall for silly distractions like this. As a former Hikvision dealer, I am growing tired of seeing them act like a disorganized startup. In no way do they appear as a company with as much revenue and market share as they do.

I think this is a very unfair statement,

seeing them act like a disorganized startup

That's putting all disorganized startups in the same bucket as this pile of lies :)

That's putting all disorganized startups in the same bucket as this pile of lies :)

I apologize for my rash comment. I apologize to all of the failed Kickstarter campaigns that couldn't deliver their next generation widget within 2 years of their target launch date.

100% Agreed.

I agree 100%, and as someone who really likes Hikvision equipment (most of it anyways) it's very disappointing to see these constant schoolyard responses from them. It's pretty obvious where the marching orders are coming from.

They are playing to their loyal customers and intentionally hurting the reputation of IPVM in those customers eyes to prevent them from seeking critical information (not always "bad", but more than the marketing fluff).

Anyone who is aware of Hikvisions pros AND cons is not going to be swayed by comments like this from their leadership as they've already demonstrated time and again that they will say anything to avoid criticism.

Hopefully they will work more on taking criticism and doing something positive with it. Despite the limitations of the implementation, the concept of opening their firmware for review is an example of where they appear to be actively trying to address criticism in a positive way.

Was it Buddha who said three things don’t stay hidden for long, the sun, the moon and the truth...

This is what damage control looks like.

And it’s actually a well thought out statement, carefully designed to put Hik in the best light possible, by adjusting the facts under their control maximally.

Note that the IPVM report results themselves are not disputed.* Nor is IPVM accused of any ill-intent in the acquisition of the unit.

It also treads a fine but plausible line with respect to the channel; ADI is a “trusted partner” who “unfortunately” sold to CSI, who is arguably a Hik “customer” in the loose sense, even if a non-Hik dealer.

A “unreleased” unit with “early” FW is blamed here. And we all know the Hik party line when it comes to worldwide product roll-outs, until it’s officially released in the U.S., it doesn’t mean anything.

Which is why the flyer from Feb. is especially damming.

Oh well, nobody said post hoc PR was perfect ;)

*I am basing this on what text is shown in the image, I couldn’t find the whole Product Line Report. Is there any thing that remains by Bob that’s germain?

In terms of the rest of the report, the other germane section is:

The webinar which had been scheduled for February 26 was postponed. While we further evaluate the report, test the latest firmware and software compatibilities, document improvements and prepare for a revised target launch date of May 1.

The IPVM test was released on February 15th, so Hikvision USA pulled the product, canceled the webinar following it.

And today is evidently the day when it will work. Despite Hikvision's response, we are happy to talk to Hikvision's tech people and ensure a fair and thorough retest when they are confident it is working.

Update regarding the May 1 launch date and/or updated firmware: We contacted Hikvision tech support twice in the past 24 hours, and both techs said there was no newer firmware than what we had, official releases will be on the tech portal and we should check there.

Massive string of laughing emoticons is the only response I have to Hik's emotional rebuttal.

We are in the business of Trust and Integrity. Customers that come to us, expect that we provide and treat them with these values. I could never sell a customer equipment from HikVision with the level of integrity this manufacturer is handling customer service and trustworthiness of their equipment.

Love look at hackvision HQ

In all fairness, he could have been given bad information and not known about the ADI advert.

The company is pretty fragmented and silos exist.

John said it best, Bob’s a good man in a bad situation.

In all fairness, he should do his job, and research before putting his name on an outright lie. If he read the report from IPVM, he would have saw that they purchased it from ADI, and it was advertised as released. He would have also addressed that any given time, Hikvision management could have contacted IPVM and formally acknowledged the products failures and say "We're going to make this better with firmware, duct tape and probably some WD40".

What stands out to me is that if he's a good man, an ethical man, why wouldn't he stand up and admit what's wrong? I'd rather lose my job being honest and forthcoming than keep it and lose my reputation.

This whole discussion is hilarious to me. Change a few names and you've totally been discussing current national politics!!!! :) (how do I make laughing with tears emojis on IPVM?)

HAHA!!! Exactly my thoughts. Playing to a loyal base by discrediting facts and making witch hunt excuses. I cringe to call this a "strategy" but its working perfectly in Washington.

In a way it's funny and in another it's not. Unfortunately, it works in politics because the masses seem to prefer being easily led to believe than making objective effort to discern what should be believable. So why not try it as a manufacturers? I'm sure the mind set is, "If they believe we're being dishonest, then they're probably not buying from us anyways, or even if they are, not enough to worry about. We want the hardcore supporters, so double down and deny, obfuscate, and dissemble on any negatives and bloviate on the positives."

Very unprofessional that Hikvision are making these accusations.

I can personally vouch for for when John Honovich contacted me personally via LinkedIn and asked if I had any experience with the DeepInMind from Hikvision.

John shared his concerns to me directly, before even going public with it all ....

If these issues do exist, which I do not doubt they do ..... Hikvision should look at improving them, rather than defending them.

It is no use, BLOGGER. The Great People's Hikvision now expose you. Please to take off your web site and refuse lies of slander on supreme Hikvision product.

Hikvision Corporate has responded. I've added the response at the end of this post as well as started a new item to highlight it, see: Hikvision Corporate Responds To IPVM's Correcting Hikvision USA False Accusations Post

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