Will IP Video Software Become Free?

By: John Honovich, Published on May 30, 2010

In the past, video management was quite expensive. Now, increasingly, it is becoming free.

Just a few years ago, it was commonplace for a 16 channel DVR to cost $10,000 USD. Today, many manufacturers give the software for free and allow you to use it with regular PCs and cheap consumer storage, totaling $2,000.

The trend of free IP Video Surveillance software is global with companies as diverse as ACTi, Cisco, IndigoVision, Mobotix and Vicon offering substantial (or unlimited) free IP video software licenses.

However, this is still the minority and almost all of these manufacturers limit the free software for use with their own cameras. As such, the value of using free IP video software is debated today.

You can:

  • Download the slides for the presentation
  • Watch the 22 minute webinar video below
  • Read the analysis at the end of the report (same as in webinar video, simply written out)
Webinar
Analysis

The issue is not about the value of IP Video. Many things offer value but are offered for free.

The issue is where companies can provide IP Video software for free and make a profit. This can be done profitably whenver the cost of the producing a product is free (like generating copies of software) and the cost of distributing is very low (like using the Internet).

Many industries demonstrate this trend of moving to free products supported by third party revenue. add on services or premium offerings. They include database management systems, Operating Systems and media.

In the next 5 years, it is possible and likely that there will be a MySQL equvalent emerge in IP video software. There are a number of key drivers making this happen:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

  • Whereas, in the past, 'normal' PCs were insufficient for video surveillance, now any PC from an electronic's store can handle dozens of cameras.
  • IP cameras are eliminating the need for any special hardware to encode video in the PC.
  • These two forces are making DIY video surveillance servers a reality.
  • IP camera vendors realize this and are offering free IP video software to accelerate the growth of their products.
However, there are 2 key barriers that are being resolved: (1) lack of standards and (2) small market. The migration to IP is increasing the market size. The move to standards (ONVIF, PSIA) is providing a foundation for low cost 3rd party camera support.
Today, we have dozens of companies develop IP video software who sell licenses at $100 - $400 USD. In addition, we have another dozen IP camera manufacturers providing their own software (often for free).
Free IP video software that supports 3rd party cameras will be a powerful force that changes the market. This is because:
  • The sales and marketing costs will be extremely low (contrast to the massive investment that today's companies spend on shows, direct sales forces, etc.)
  • Market share will grow likely as the free cost makes it easy for buyers to start with this software with little risk.
  • As use of the free software expands, 3rd party manufacturers (like camera suppliers, access control systems, etc.) will have an incentive to support free software to drive the growth of their own products.

Now, the free software will not be as good as the paid premium software, especially in the beginning. The gap will be significant, especially in advanced features.

However, the free software will be good enough for a large section of the lower end. Plus, since IP video software is not innovating very quickly, the free software will reduce the gap a little more each year.

It's likely that this comes from a current free IP video software offering adding 3rd party camera support or a new entrant offering an open source version. 

It's not clear who will do. It is pretty certain that it will not be today's premium market leaders. They are growing too quickly and making too much money to risk their position by giving software away for free.

The expansion of free IP video software will take time. The process for IP video software to go completely mainstream may take 10 years or more. However, each year, the free software will push upmarket as it matches features of the premium offerings.

Premium paid offerings can still do well. We see 3 areas:

  • Advanced features that cater to specific verticals
  • Packaging or providing appliances that simplify installation and setup
  • Providing managed video where you are paid not for the software but for the ability to manage and maintain the video solution
Where premium is likely to fail is for general applications and anyone who needs just the basics (quite a large market even today).
The key milestone in this growth is likely to be as ONVIF and or PSIA products go into production. Expect a few providers to use this as an opportunity to provide free and open IP video software - expanding free software from a vendor's incentive to a mainstream competitor.

1 report cite this report:

VMS / NVR / DVR 2009 Mid-Year Market Review on Jul 19, 2009
Over the first half of 2009, improvements in deployment simplicity was the...

Related Reports

Cisco Acquiring Fluidmesh on Apr 09, 2020
Cisco announced it is acquiring niche wireless manufacturer...
Dedicated Vs Converged IP Video Networks Statistics 2020 on Sep 10, 2020
Running one's video system on a converged network with other devices can save...
Verkada Coronavirus Response: Free Temp Systems For Government and Health Care on Apr 07, 2020
Verkada has built a reputation on giving away things for free - free Yeti...
Hikvision and Uniview Entry Level Thermal Handheld Cameras Tested on Jun 05, 2020
While most screening systems cost $10,000 or more, manufacturers such as...
The Next Hot Fever Detection Trend - $100 Wall-Mounted Units on Jul 06, 2020
The first wave of the booming fever detecting market was $10,000+ cameras,...
Startup Videoloft Presents Cloud Storage on May 27, 2020
Videoloft presented offsite cloud storage at the May 2020 IPVM Startups...
Directory of 96 Video Surveillance Startups on May 20, 2020
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see...
USA's Feevr Thermal Temperature System Examined on Mar 31, 2020
This US company has burst on to the scene, brashly naming itself 'feevr' and...
Quantum Dots Potential for Surveillance Cameras Explained on Sep 08, 2020
Quantum dots are starting to be used in TVs for better images, but how will...
Brivo Presents ACS100 Single-Door Combo Controller & Reader on Apr 27, 2020
Brivo presented its first integrated reader and controller, the ACS100 at the...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...
Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New...
Sony 61MP Surveillance Sensor Examined on Sep 04, 2020
For a decade, the highest resolution single-imager surveillance cameras have...

Recent Reports

Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
Today is your last chance to save $50 on registration for the Fall 2020 Video...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...
Mobile Access Control Usage Statistics 2020 on Sep 21, 2020
Most smartphones can be used as access control credentials, but how...
Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...