Winners & Losers Fall 2013

By John Honovich, Published Nov 04, 2013, 12:00am EST

New product releases were terrible this fall. The biggest news was the debatable entry of Axis and Milestone into access control. But the biggest gains might be for Chinese manufacturers who are answering the call of integrator's number #1 complaint and delivering incumbent manufacturer's #1 problem - low cost products.

What would you choose?

 Inside our Pro Member's section, we cover the key emerging trends for:

  • Cameras: H.265 and 4K
  • Analytics: ????
  • VMS: Appliances and VSaaS (kidding)

Then we review the specific competitive advances and problems for:

  • Arecont Vision
  • Avigilon
  • Axis
  • Bosch
  • Exacq
  • Genetec
  • IQinVision
  • Milestone
  • Mobotix
  • OnSSI
  • Panasonic
  • Pelco
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Trending - Product Categories

    Access control got the most attention, but that was primarily because of the name (Axis, Milestone) and how much of out of their comfort zone / expertise they are heading. While it makes for a catchy headline, the practical impact is likely to be modest and relatively slow. Though the Axis A1001 door controller looks solid, it is not a 'game changer'. However, because Axis encourages partners and makes integration easy, it should help expand options for integrators and users.

    Cameras were relatively quiet this fall, surprising considering new camera developments tend to dominate announcements. Manufacturers continue to release panoramic cameras (e.g., Sony finally added one) and integrated IR grows more more and more common (e.g., Axis announcing their 3rd integrated IR model in the last year).

    Next year, the big camera trends are likely to be H.265 and Ultra HD 4K. Both should make for an exciting market, with manufacturers pushing higher resolution (4K) and bandwidth savings (H.265) with industry professionals trying to figure out how much better these offerings really are.

    VMSes remain in a low innovation state, with the biggest news being Milestone's NVR line, not technologically impressive but an interesting shift from a long time software only proponent and major market player. In general, appliances continue to be attractive as IP players go after smaller scale deployments. The product type we like the best for this segment is the NVR with integrated PoE switch, which makes integration a lot simpler for those lacking basic IP skills. Indeed, Chinese manufacturers are doing especially well here (e.g., the Q-See / Dahua HD kit).

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    VSaaS remains irrelevant, with EMC failing with Axis VSaaS, being a milestone but an unsurprising one at that. It can certainly putter along with Chinese buffets but there's little hope for it being a major market force. The exception is clearly Dropcam, but its their different approach to VSaaS that is making it worse - an end to end solution, sold online direct and incredibly easy to set up for residential or SMB users who need just 1 or 2 cameras.

    Analytics remains in the doghouse, with little innovation nor new entrants. The biggest thing we found in the last year is camera manufacturers releasing VMD++ (like Axis and Mobotix - see test results), which shows that its possible to largely eliminate false motion detections (a very practical, common and costly problem). We see more opportunity for other manufacturers to improve here but are not confident when they will.

    Manufacturers - Winning and Losing

    Arecont Vision continues with solid new announcements. The most impressive is their upcoming Omni [link no longer available] which extends their multi-imager series to an adjustable / re-positionable offering. It really is amazing that almost no competitors have challenged Arecont here as this continues to be their core competitive differentiator, especially since Asian competitors have wiped out Arecont's former lower price leadership.

    Aventura captured a lot of attention with their surprising H.265 announcement. Since Aventura focuses more on selling their own end to end systems and since they are not widely resold, we do not think this will have broad impact (though obviously will be helpful for themselves if they can deliver on H.265's promises).

    Avigilon's 'big' announcement was a super low light camera, 'Lightcatcher', which is more catch up than anything else as many of their rivals already have such cameras (like Axis LightFinder and Bosch Starlight). Considering how big Avigilon now is, that was a fairly weak release. And with so much engineering turnover this year, it will be interesting to see what they deliver in Spring 2014.

    Axis: Leaving aside the access control spectacle, Axis new camera releases, while many as usual, were not terribly disruptive, with a number of niche offerings like (really expensive) long range IR and (really expensive) 60fps accelerometer camera. Over the past few years, Axis made a strong move to open up the budget / low end market with their M series. However, especially with Chinese manufacturer incursions, they really need a new generation.

    Bosch was quiet, especially with the delay of their much hyped 4K cameras. While Bosch has made huge steps in the last few years to become a serious contender, there was not much new of significance (e.g., an NVR appliance).

    BRS Labs announced cloud behavioral recognition, which is bizarre on many levels. Up until this year, it was all about big security risks and mega projects. Now it's 4 cameras in a pizzeria. Given their financial challenges, they are likely looking for something new or at least exciting to investors. Good luck.

    Exacq had their first trade show as part of Tyco. Not much has changed (yet). They released their typical solid, but not groundbreaking dot release (5.8 overview). Most are still waiting to what changes happen as the integration into Tyco evolves.

    Genetec's big new release for ASIS was a 6 month promotion with Bosch for an analog upgrade package. If you are confused, just remember, this is the same company that anchored a marketing campaign for their VSaaS offering on a Calgary Chinese buffet. Obviously, Genetec has a very powerful VMS / PSIM offering but who knows what they are doing or where they are going.

    IQinVision had a Google Glass demonstration and are still an independent company. Rumors continue to swirl about the company. Something has to happen as they just no longer have a real footing in the market. They would make a solid target (likely at a reasonable cost) for a conglomerate.

    Milestone continues to make solid progress. Their new access control module lets them have some counter to Genetec (though obviously not close to the same level nor depth). Their new appliances enable them to compete head to head against Exacq, at a time when Exacq integrators are more open than ever to alternatives. Biggest concern is the lack of camera partners for Arcus. So far, they only have ISD and IQinVision, two niche players. Can Milestone bag a big camera manufacturer - someone along the lines of Vivotek, Sony, Panasonic, etc.? Axis and Bosch are unlikely since they have their own but many of the others really need something (or will they just build their own?)

    Mobotix is on the upswing, with better financial results and a slew of new products. They are still expensive, they are still partner unfriendly (no H.264, no ONVIF) but at least their ecosystem can benefit from improved analytics, 5MP cameras, thermal, etc.

    OnSSI announced improved mobile apps [link no longer available] and a new version LS [link no longer available], which looks mostly like a Milestone rebrand or as they call it 'recording engine'. However, with Milestone releasing a full line of recorder appliances and Arcus this year, it is becoming tougher and tougher for OnSSI to compete against their OEM partner.

    Panasonic and Sony both continued with their typical release schedule. The most different announcement was Panasonic's rain resistant PTZ doom which generated significant debate and skepticism in our discussion of it.

    Pelco introduced a slew of IP cameras earlier this year that certainly helped them catch up. This fall, the focus was a range of accessories [link no longer available] that does not have much impact. A central challenge for Pelco is that they have really fallen off the radar of integrators open to new brands. Certainly, they have their strong accounts, channels, A&E relationships, etc. but industry buzz / interest in Pelco appears very low to us.

    Samsung is trying a lot harder, especially around their recent Wisenet III release, which claims high end performance at fairly rock bottom prices. This is generating a lot more buzz for them, something that they have never had before in IP video surveillance. Our Samsung test results will be released this month (not following the Samsung salesguy's test process).

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