Panasonic Free VMS Licenses Program

By John Honovich, Published Apr 21, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Looks like Tyco is a trendsetter.

Weeks after Tyco starting giving free Exacq licenses, Digital Watchdog followed suit and now the biggest camera manufacturer yet is offering free VMS licenses.

In this note, we look at Panasonic's move, what it includes and how this is likely to impact the market.

Overview

In February 2015, Panasonic bought US VMS manufacturer Video Insight. At that time, Panasonic emphasized the focus for VI was education in North America and that they reaffirmed support for third party VMSes.

Less than 2 months, Panasonic has announced that for most Panasonic camera models bought, a free Video Insight VMS license would be included.

How It Works

Video Insight / Panasonic explained how it worked to us:

"Register for the free license on our website and receive a VI serial number via email.  During the installation, the customer will select “Panasonic Bundle” and the app will scan for eligible cameras (or the customer can manually enter the IP address of the cameras.) If our client app is on a workstation that can reach the Internet, the app will send the model and serial numbers to VI and be fully activated.  If the system is offline, the app will allow the user to download a file and subsequently upload it to the VI website within 60 days."

The program starts on May 1, 2015 and does not include previously purchased Panasonic cameras. However, VideoInsight noted that they "continue to offer a perpetual MSRP $50 per camera competitive upgrade that allows customers running other VMS products to switch to VI for cameras not included in the bundle."

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It does not require buying VideoInsight's servers / appliances (unlike the Exacq program), allowing Panasonic users to select their own COTS hardware.

VideoInsight also gives away access control software for free as well.

What Cameras It Covers

There are ~100 Panasonic cameras covered, including what we believe is all of their professional cameras and even a few of their SMB / consumer offerings like the BL-VT164. To that end, it is fairly extensive. On the other hand, Panasonic does not sell $100 MP cameras, so almost all the cameras eligible for this offering are going to be $300+, with many ~$1,000.

Competitive Impact

The most significant potential impact is reinforcing the growing practice that VMS software should be given away as part of a camera sale. Not since 2011 when Milestone started a price war for entry level VMS, has the market seen such strong price pressure.

For Panasonic, this becomes a useful sales tool, since it helps justify a premium price / offset that price with no VMS cost. Of course, for Video Insight, it helps get more people trying / using their software, as it taps into the fairly large Panasonic IP camera customer base.

The counter to this will be that you can buy less expensive that cameras from other manufacturers and that other VMSes are either better or better for one's needs than VideoInisght (this would be a reasonable Genetec response, e.g.).

What remains to be seen is how far manufacturers go with the free VMS bundle. Surveillance manufacturers are, overall, struggling to grow, so they might be well motivated to give away VMS software if they believe it will increase their camera sales.

What Do You Think?

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