Apple App Store stocks up on security downloads
CUPERTINO, Calif.Ã¢â‚¬â€The iTunes App Store, run by Apple, which is based here, now has a number of downloadable applications for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch that can be used to control video surveillance systems. They range in price from completely free to $899.99 (the single most expensive item on the App Store) and offer varying degrees of functionality and control.
That $899.99 application is made by Lextech Labs, a company that has been working behind the scenes in the security industry for years, creating software that helps control diversified systems, from a surveillance system for the Coast Guard to military weapons platforms. LextechÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s iRa, available at the App Store as of Oct. 21, allows users to control multiple live video feeds and offers PTZ control with just the touch of a finger, in real time.
One of its claims to fame is that it was selected as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coolest iPhone AppÃ¢â‚¬Â at iPhoneDevCamp2 in San Francisco, in August.
So why does your typical security integrator care? Currently, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no way to sell the App other than through the iTunes store, so thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no chance for a resale margin, agreed Lextech CEO Alex Bratton, Ã¢â‚¬Å“but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re expecting that our application will really become a marketing tool for the integrator to show new capabilities and extend the reach of a new IP video system well beyond the confines of the facility.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That allows them to sell more equipment or get the job in the first place,Ã¢â‚¬Â he continued, Ã¢â‚¬Å“and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll generate revenue from configuring the application for the end user.Ã¢â‚¬Â
John Honovich, who watches the IP video space as the proprietor of www.ipvideomarket.info, had doubts about the iRa business plan, however. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The NVR or DVR vendor has traditionally built the client [that would allow remote access] and then given it away for free. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a throw-in. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot of precedence or interest in paying for a client.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As if to validate this opinion, the other application on the iTunes App Store geared to the surveillance market is March NetworksÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ VideoSphere Pocket, which can be downloaded free and works seamlessly with cameras hooked into MarchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s VideoSphere Intelligent Video Management Portfolio.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is kind of the early days of determining where the market is going,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Peter Wilenius, vice president of corporate development and investor relations at March, of some of the logic behind the pricing. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We think thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a definite trend toward mobile access, but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still gathering feedback on the product, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on an iPhone or a Blackberry, and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see what the reaction is. It will evolve considerably from this place.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Currently, select integrators and end users are using the iPhone app, Wilenius said, many of them in Europe. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We need to understand from the integrators how the end users use the iPhone, and it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just be limited to video. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also alarm information, access control and the rest of it. This is an opportunity to see how people can interact while theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re mobile,Ã¢â‚¬Â though he noted that March has had customers using mobile applications on Treos and PDAs for a few years now.
Wilenius agreed with Honovich that the iPhone app is more of a value-add than a singular product. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one client,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part of a bigger solution.Ã¢â‚¬Â He noted, however, that he thinks, in the long term, video management software will be sold as a subscription offering, and Ã¢â‚¬Å“youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d get access to various applications and the iPhone app would be just one of them.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Out of the gate, the iRa will have more universal compatibility, said Bratton, who expects to announce integration with a number of video management software providers in the first quarter of 2009. However, Wilenius said integration with other VMS makers was in the road map. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There will be open systems,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not naive enough to think we will corner the market.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Of course, remote video has been accessible via Windows-based PDAs and mobile devices for some time, but Honovich said the iTunes App store offers significant advantages. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been really hard to get mobile video up and running in the past,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what you want to eliminate with the iPhone. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to load, easy to manage, easy to update. Having a closed system like the App Store helps to ensure that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Wilenius agreed: Ã¢â‚¬Å“In terms of media devices thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not really anything that can rival the iPhone. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time to go to that next step as the technology evolves.Ã¢â‚¬Â