Failed Manufacturer Polaroid Enters Surveillance

By John Honovich, Published May 19, 2013, 08:00pm EDT

Polaroid is one of the most spectacular failures of the century and has become, quite literally, a case study in failure. Now, after two bankruptcies, and partnering with Lady Gaga [link no longer available], Polaroid is targeting the surveillance market. In this note, we examine the positioning of their surveillance products and the potential for success.

Polaroid's Surveillance Offering

Polaroid has ambitious plans, claiming a full line of cameras from analog to 20MP, from minidomes to bullets, PTZs, and panoramics. All of them come with a 10 year warranty and “the industry’s most competitive MSRP.” They will also have a VMS that is “compatible with 1800 cameras from 80 manufacturers.”

Dealer Protection

Not only does Polaroid plan to sell through dealers, they claim to offer an unprecedented level of dealer protection.

"The Polaroid regional sales managers will hire and direct Polaroid sales representatives who will administer their territories, selecting and managing Tier 1 Polaroid-certified security integrators. Uniquely, a Polaroid integrator’s territory will be protected. No other Polaroid channel partner will be allowed to sell into it.” [Emphasis added]

The products are set to roll out this summer.

Steep Skepticism

On a high level, that is quite a pitch, but we are skeptical for a number of reasons:

  • Likely OEMed: No one can enter a new market with dozens of new products in so many different categories. We think it is highly likely that the company is simply OEMing from existing suppliers and doing little more than slapping the venerable Polaroid brand on it.
  • ONVIF: The "compatible with 1800 cameras' reference probably just means ONVIF, which is standard today. The VMS is likely OEMed as well, as it takes a lot of work to build one's own VMS from scratch.
  • Warranty Limitations: The 10 year warranty is the most ambitious surveillance offer we have ever seen. Unfortunately, we expect it to be similar to the fine print constraints found in the DVTEL “lifetime” warranty we reported on 2011, where "lifetime" only meant two years after the camera model had been discontinued.

Beyond that, trading on Polaroid's brand will be hard, given their very public fall from grace and their association with antiquated technology.

Most Intriguing Part

The most intriguing part is their dealer protection restricting geographic access to a single integrator. Regardless of how mediocre Polaroid's products might be, this is sure to keep some integrators very excited. On the other hand, the reason essentially no one does this is that it makes it almost impossible to scale revenue as a single integrator in an area cannot be depended on to maximize total sales and provide options for long term support.

It will, at the very least, be fun to see such how such a former luminary deals in its entrance to the fragmented and polarized surveillance market.

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