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

FLIR Launches Body Cameras Unified With VMS (TruWitness) on Dec 11, 2018
While FLIR is best known for their thermal cameras, now they have expanded into body cameras, launching TruWITNESS, a public safety focused body...
Ubiquiti $79 Flex IP Camera Tested on Dec 07, 2018
U.S. Manufacturer Ubiquiti has released a 1080p, integrated IR IP camera, selling it directly for $79, making this one of the least expensive IP...
Infinova's Xinjiang Business Examined on Dec 07, 2018
As pressure mounts for companies to stop doing business in China’s Xinjiang region amid a severe human rights crisis, IPVM has found Infinova sold...
Akuvox Intercom Profile on Dec 06, 2018
Akuvox, a Chinese manufacturer of VoIP products, is expanding heavily into Video Intercom products with disruptive pricing targeted for commercial...
VMS Live Monitoring Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix on Dec 05, 2018
Viewing live video is the first interaction and most common task most users have with a VMS. Who does it best and worst? Who offers the most...
Fullerton Returns, Joins OpenEye on Dec 04, 2018
Eric Fullerton became one of the most famous people in the industry as the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Milestone as Milestone became the...
Startup Qumulex Aims For Unified Platform, Adds Infinias Access Founder on Nov 29, 2018
The startup founded by former Exacq executives, Qumulex has hired Wayne Jared, founder of access control manufacturer Infinias and most recently a...
Vintra "AI-Powered" Video Analytics Startup Profile on Nov 27, 2018
Vintra is a Silicon Valley startup focused on AI-based video analytics. They had booths at IACP and ISC West demonstrating their hosted or...
Top Manufacturers Gaining and Losing 2018 on Nov 26, 2018
This is the 5th year IPVM has tracked manufacturers gaining and losing: Top Manufacturers Gaining and Losing 2014 Top Manufacturers Gaining and...
Milestone Disrupts Milestone With Arcules on Nov 19, 2018
Milestone is now competing against... Milestone's own spinout Arcules. New IPVM testing shows that Arcules has incorporated a substantial amount...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference 2018 Review - ADT, Resideo, Alarm.com, Arlo, Eagle Eye, ACRE, More on Dec 14, 2018
Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference is an event matching industry executives with financiers that frequently leads to future funding...
Cisco Meraki New Cameras and AI Analytics on Dec 14, 2018
Meraki has released their second generation of video surveillance with 3 new cameras, AI-based video analytics, and 2 cloud-based storage...
Foolish Strategy: OEMing Facial Recognition on Dec 13, 2018
Almost as 'hot' as face recognition marketing right now is OEMing facial recognition. Last year, they were a who's who of company's with...
DVR Examiner - Video Recovery from Recorder Hard Drives on Dec 13, 2018
Bypassing passwords and long download times on-site, DVR Examiner collects and organizes video evidence directly from a hard drive extracted from...
2019 Access Control Book Released on Dec 12, 2018
This is the best, most comprehensive access control book in the world, based on our unprecedented research and testing has been significantly...
Huawei Hisilicon Quietly Powering Tens of Millions of Western IoT Devices on Dec 12, 2018
Huawei Hisilicon chips are powering, at least, tens of millions of Western IoT devices, such as IP cameras and surveillance recorders, a fact that...
FLIR Launches Body Cameras Unified With VMS (TruWitness) on Dec 11, 2018
While FLIR is best known for their thermal cameras, now they have expanded into body cameras, launching TruWITNESS, a public safety focused body...
Startup Sunflower Labs' Autonomous Drone Security System on Dec 11, 2018
Startup Sunflower Labs is claiming a unique design on a home security system, combining autonomous drones and 'Sunflower' sensors. Imagine an...
The 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Dec 10, 2018
The 300 page, 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide, covers the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available,...
Multi-Factor Access Control Authentication Guide on Dec 10, 2018
Can a stranger use your credentials? One of the oldest problems facing access control is making credentials as easy to use as keys, but restricting...

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