Winners Losers Spring 2012By John Honovich, Published Apr 22, 2012, 12:00am EDT
Now that the dust has settled from the product announcements of the last month, we can better understand the impact on the overall video surveillance market.
Here's the biggest three trends we see out of nearly 50 new product announcements:
- Lack of Innovation: Even more so than last fall, very few new products were especially noteworthy. This was especially surprisingly, given that Spring is traditionally the time of year when the biggest releases happen.
- Edge Storage: Centered around Axis's expanded support, numerous VMSes added support as well as Axis's own controversial VMS replacement offering. While people talked about edge storage for years, this is by far the application's biggest boost ever.
- Improved Image Quality: While resolution increases were uncommon this year, a slew of prominent manufacturers increased enhanced WDR and/or low light performance. As such, we see 'beautiful' surveillance video becoming commonplace.
Winners and Losers
Inside, we break down the moves of the following notable manufacturers:
- Arecont Vision
- Dedicated Micros
- Ingram Micro
- Milestone Systems
Given the low overall innovation, the bar for being a 'winner' was set accordingly.
Arecont Vision - Arecont's first WDR cameras have potential. Leveraging new imagers and software, Arecont may be able to improve their image quality at their typical rock bottom prices. That said, we still remain quite cautious of the them given integrator's reports of Arecont as the worst overall camera. As soon as the WDR cameras ship, we will be sure to test.
Avigilon - Avigilon too released a WDR camera plus an H.264 5MP version. Like Arecont, the pricing is quite attractive. It is not a huge move but it is solid progress for a company already in a strong position.
Axis - Axis continues to release more products and more innovative offerings than any other surveillance manufacturers. While the overwhelming attention went to Axis Camera Companion, Axis is also solidifying their line as the one to use for those wanting edge storage on 3rd party VMSes - a growing differentiator. Plus, Axis refreshed their HD domes to incorporate their super low light technology - a nice addition of a truly useful feature. Finally, Axis is now offering integrated IR cameras with a well thought out design.
DVTel - With a lot of buzz around the concept of turning smartphones into surveillance cameras, DVTel is the first and only VMS provider to ship this feature in production. It's a nice niche among the company's target market and a solid, though temporary, way to differentiate themselves against direct competitors. And, of course, it is far better than the wacky 3D demo they ran at a past show.
Envysion - Likely the world's most successful VSaaS company, Enyvsion is the strongest contrarian to the hosted / AVHS style approach to the cloud. Envysion continues to roll out large projects [link no longer available] quietly and is a clear template of how to do VSaaS right, in the midst of so many floundering.
Exacq - Exacq's Edge release plays into one of the biggest new trends and differentiates them against major competitors Milestone / OnSSI. Combined with a number of incremental enhancements, Exacq continues to move itself up the tiers of the strongest VMS players.
Intersil - Intersil's SLOC is quietly powering a steep drop in the cost of reusing coax cable for IP cameras. This is best demonstrated by Altronix's recent release and Sony's hybrid camera line. This might be an accessory but it is an important one and a significant shift in the positioning of products in that niche.
ipConfigure - A 1000MP camera demonstration plus an LPR app for Axis cameras combines for one of the most buzzworthy players of the season. Now the main problem is that they are primarily a VMS developer. On the plus side, they are rightfully getting a lot more attention than a mid tier VMS provider ever gets. However, can they translate that into long term success?
NLSS - Clearly, NLSS is the most interesting up and coming VMS/NVR alternative. The core product continues to mature with a new incremental release [link no longer available] plus they have added in a facial recognition option. The company has built a pretty broad and deep product in an extremely short period of time.
Panasonic - Panasonic released a lot of new cameras. In an innovation environment so low, it is worth citing positively. Check out their new low cost HD home line, the new HD domes and the new integrated IR camera.
Milestone Systems - One of the best surveillance marketers has seemingly lost its marketing mojo. For example:
Of course, this follows last year's Milestone NVR dud. For a company that prides itself in valuing its partners and being the 'open platform' company, they sure have been doing a lot to antagonize them over the past year.
Milestone, without savvy marketing, is a bloated VMS, with an increasingly unattractive support plan and rising total cost of ownership.
Mobotix - It's as if Mobotix just gave up a few years ago. Their empty booth [link no longer available] was just the latest sign in their troubles. Finally, Mobotix is starting to release details on their first new surveillance line in years - the S14. It looks to be a niche product for discrete/covert applications.
Sony - While Sony announced nothing new, all of its major competitors introduced notable new products. We do not count the Sony hybrid cameras as new because they have been marketing them for a year now, including at the previous two seasons of shows. Sony is still a strong player but a lot of their advantages are being eaten away. We hear a new generation is coming in the near future and it will be needed if they are to keep their strong position in the marketplace.
Veracity - Veracity is best known for their ethernet over coax adapters and is likely the best known player in that entire niche. Their challenge comes from Intersil enabling new entrants to compete with their core business at much lower prices. For demanding applications, Veracity's products still have advantages over Intersil options (see our Altronix review). However, many will be attracted to the much lower pricing of these new alternatives. It will be interesting to see how Veracity responds. Recently Veracity has been more focused on its storage offerings.
While the following companies may not be clear winners or losers, they did make notable moves:
D-Link - D-Link continues to expand its product line and focus on becoming a professional surveillance option. The most noteworthy individual D-Link product we saw was their Cloud enabled offerings which we think has significant potential in the SOHO / SMB market.
IndigoVision - After months of dramatic public turmoil, the company appears to be stabilizing. New products were modest this season and they have a lot of work ahead of them if they are going to compete with newer IP surveillance products.
OnSSI - In typical fashion, OnSSI's canny marketers took a solid feature (transcoding) and warped it into disproportionate marketing buzz (an award plus cloud claims). The main challenge remains - They are a VMS reseller with some software add ons.
Pelco - Pelco did not release anything particularly notable. More and more the company looks like it is transforming into the new Honeywell - a conglomerate with lots of OK products but not a technology or product leader. We have given up any hope they can challenge Axis for IP camera supremacy.
Pixim - The company's positioning has effectively flipped. In the past, the company was known for providing overall top tier image quality. Now, with Pixim continuing not to support MP / HD, they have become an enabler for decent quality, low cost, mostly analog products (good example, their recent Nightwolf release). It may very well be a good business for the company, but for those seeking top tier imaging, Pixim has basically withdrawn from the race while the biggest surveillance manufacturers have released their own high quality MP offerings.
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