Apple stocks up on security

App store offers new downloads for iPhone-controlled surveillance
 - 
Monday, December 1, 2008

CUPERTINO, Calif.--The iTunes App Store, run by Apple, which is based here, now has 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. Lextech’s iRa, available at the App Store as of Nov. 10, allows users to control multiple live video feeds and offers PTZ control with just the touch of a finger, in real time.

Currently, there’s no way to sell the App other than through the iTunes store, so there’s no chance for a resale margin, agreed Lextech CEO Alex Bratton, “but we’re expecting that our application will really become a marketing tool for the integrator.

“That allows them to sell more equipment or get the job,” he continued, “and they’ll generate revenue from configuring the application.”

John Honovich, who watches the IP video space as the proprietor of www.ipvideomarket.info, had doubts about the iRa business plan, however. “The NVR or DVR vendor has traditionally built the client [that would allow remote access] and then given it away for free. It’s a throw-in. I don’t think there’s a lot of precedence or interest in paying for a client.”
As if to validate this opinion, the other application on the iTunes App Store geared to the surveillance market is March Networks’ VideoSphere Pocket, which can be downloaded free and works seamlessly with cameras hooked into March’s VideoSphere Intelligent Video Management Portfolio.

“This is kind of the early days of determining where the market is going,” said Peter Wilenius, vice president of corporate development and investor relations at March, of some of the logic behind the pricing. “We think there’s a definite trend toward mobile access, but we’re still gathering feedback on the product.”

Wilenius agreed with Honovich that the iPhone app is more of a value-add than a singular product. He noted, however, that he thinks, in the long term, video management software will be sold as a subscription offering, and “you’d get access to various applications and the iPhone app would be just one of them.”

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.

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: “It’s easy to load, easy to manage, easy to update. Having a closed system like the App Store helps to ensure that.”

Wilenius agreed: “In terms of media devices there’s not really anything that can rival the iPhone.”