Worst Advice Ever

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 09, 2012

"Don't count analog video out yet" is the worst advice ever. Integrators who want to bankrupt themselves should jump on this immediately. Unfortunately, though, a US trade magazine has recently promoted this.

Maybe if you are in a developing country this is good advice but in the US, it is a recipe for disaster. As we explained last year, the market has already tipped to IP cameras.

Like a video rental store, integrators can hang on to the stragglers and the poor but the market for new systems has clearly tipped to IP.

"Barriers to IP"

Here are some barriers the trade mag lists and our thoughts:

  • Dealers don't want to "deal with networking issues". Too bad for the dinosaurs. Networking talent is widely available now. If those dealers refuse to evolve, their competitors will eat their lunch. We examined this point in the Tri-Ed terrible advice post.
  • PTZ Latency: Survey results show PTZs are a small and declining part of the market. Plus, latency is an issue with today's digitized analog systems as well.
  • Coaxial Cable Still in Place: Our survey results show most integrators replace anyway for a variety of reasons. Plus, Intersil's entrance into the market in the last year has driven a radical drop in coaxial adapter pricing (see our reviews on Sony IP coax cameras and Altronix's converters).
  • Cheaper for Small Systems: The best defense for analog. Unfortunately, this means significantly worse video quality than having an IP / MP system. By the way, as we recently reviewed, watch out for Ubiquiti's super inexpensive HD IP cameras which are rapidly cutting into this last holdout.
  • Analog Prices Dropping Faster than IP: What's really happening is that the analog market has shifted from $250 professional CCTV cameras to $50 simple cameras. Users wanting high quality cameras have mostly shifted to IP because of better quality and richer featuresets. Those remaining are primarily driven by super low pricing.
  • "In a lot of environments", SD "gives the video quality you need": And yet the repeated criticisms of video surveillance quality being terrible shows that this is not the case. Any SD camera FoV more than 5 or 6 feet is going to have difficulty capturing important details but almost all cameras have 10 foot or wider FoVs. Plus, newer MP cameras are making 'beautiful' video commonplace.

Market Share

The strangest claim made in the trade mag article is that "analog is holding on to marketshare'. I literally know no professional analysts or investors who believe that. The growth in video surveillance is in IP cameras. The top growing companies overall are IP ones - Axis, Avigilon, Vivotek, etc. Plus, the big CCTV incumbents are desperately trying to hold their ground by increasing IP camera sales to drop steep declines on the analog side.

The most misleading part is munging numbers from China and the developing word with local markets. For US and Western European audiences (who are the overwhelming readers of security sites), what really counts is what is happening in their home markets. And in those areas (save the UK), the shift is very strong to IP cameras. China might be a bubble or a great boom but to an integrator or end user in Chicago, it does not matter at all.

Where to Go

The trade mag concludes, "the old lion is still here, roaring just a bit less loudly." Those are some amazingly rose colored glasses. Analog is much closer to an endangered species getting closer and closer to extinction each year.

Market segments in decline are terrible places for businesses as growth can only come from truly extraordinary efforts. For most, it is like being dragged down by a boat anchor.

Using analog, much like buying DVDs, does not make one a bad person. It is just that the technology has simply been surpassed. Do not confuse the transition cycle to a new technology with a last gap comeback for a dying one.

UPDATE: After this critique, now that US trade magazine has changed its position on analog, equivocating, "While [analog] will certainly be surpassed by IP video, is surprisingly still being used by some installers and end users"

UPDATE 2016: Analog is back, not the SD analog SIW trumpeted but a newer HD version.

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