Will IP Video Software Become Free?

Author: 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.

Certainly, there's a trend. The question, then, is how will this trend evolve? I think this trend will accelerate and become an even more important force within the market.

[Update: Summer 2010 - Milestone has released a free though handicapped VMS offering.]

3 Options for the Report

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.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

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:

  • 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 strongest theme for video management systems. While few to no...

Related Reports

Private School IT Manager Surveillance Interview on Feb 22, 2019
This IT manager describes himself as the "oft-maligned IT person" whose "opinions may not always be appreciated by the integrator crowd." But he is...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Exacq Raises VMS Software Pricing Twice in Less Than a Year on Feb 18, 2019
Most VMSes regularly release new features, but rarely increase their prices. For the 3rd time in 4 years, and 2nd time in 8 months, since being...
Axis IR Multi Imager Camera Tested (P3717-PLE) on Feb 18, 2019
Axis has released their first IR multi imager, the P3717-PLE, a repositionable model listing 360° IR illumination and flexible positioning,...
Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every job you can do in the...
Cisco Meraki Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Feb 13, 2019
Cisco Meraki says their cameras "bring Meraki magic to the enterprise video security world". According to Meraki, their magic is their management...
Solink Raises $12 Million - Company Profile on Feb 12, 2019
Most industry professionals have never heard of Solink, a company whose tagline is: It's time to revolutionize the way business uses...
Milestone Drops Hikvision From Elite Partners on Feb 11, 2019
Milestone has quietly dropped Hikvision from their 'Elite Partners', less than 3 years after adding the Chinese government-owned...
FLIR Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 08, 2019
FLIR has had a challenging past few years including FLIR Security business struggling, FLIR restructuring their security division and FLIR selling...
Dahua Intercom Tested on Feb 07, 2019
Video intercoms are a growing market with video surveillance manufacturers expanding into this niche. IPVM is continuing its series of video...

Most Recent Industry Reports

From The Basement To Buried Behind Chinatown: ISC West Emerging Technology Zone on Feb 22, 2019
What does ISC West think about 'Emerging Technology'? Well, last year, they put those companies in the basement. This year, they moved them up to...
Private School IT Manager Surveillance Interview on Feb 22, 2019
This IT manager describes himself as the "oft-maligned IT person" whose "opinions may not always be appreciated by the integrator crowd." But he is...
Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
First US State, Vermont, Bans Dahua and Hikvision on Feb 21, 2019
The first US state, Vermont, has issued a ban on a number of Chinese and Russian manufacturers including the world's 2 largest video surveillance...
ADI 'SAVE BIG' On FLIR And Hikvision Examined on Feb 20, 2019
One is a major US defense supplier. The other is owned by the Chinese government. But you can "SAVE BIG" on both at ADI. In this note, we...
BluB0x Company Profile on Feb 20, 2019
BluB0x has doubled in revenue every year since its founding in 2013, according to CEO Patrick Barry. We originally reported on them in 2015. At the...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact