There's a new blogger in town
Steve Weller, the CIO of SightMind, sent me over a link to his new blog. Thus far, it's only got the one post, which is just about as aggressive as you'd expect from a company that thinks it will soon have 60 percent or so of the IP video installation market share. Basically, it posits that the IP video market is in its infancy and therefore ripe for the plucking and dominating, with six reasons: 1. Nobody Is Doing It Need water? Call a plumber. Need power? Call an electrician. Need phones? Call a phone company. Need a network of cameras installed with networking, storage, server, internet connection, and sophisticated software that has to to work reliably 24/7 for five years in any weather? It sounds like an IT job, but they don't know about cameras or video surveillance software. The people who can pull the wires and climb the ladders would do a good job, but they don't understand networking. And the security companies are still trying to sell me analog CCTV as part of a packaged solution. This is the mantra that's been pushed on me ever since I entered the industry about three years ago, but no one seems to acknowledge that it's less and less true every day. Yes, there are still a number of traditional alarm companies who aren't interested in IP systems - because they never did CCTV in the first place. They're alarm guys. If you want a home alarm, you call an alarm guy. But, if you call Diebold (a pretty dang big company with a recognizable brand) or Stanley (same) or Convergint or Adesta or Navco or just about any PSA member or a host of other pretty large national integrators, I think you can get the system you're looking for, no sweat. Are there still issues with IP cameras outdoors and in low-light? Sure, some. But why is it verboten that you put a decent analog PTZ camera outside and put an encoder on the back end as part of your networked system? Just because it's an IP system doesn't mean every camera needs to be an IP camera. If you're telling yourself right now that all traditional security integrators suck at IP, I think you're going to be surprised when you don't get the market dominance you're looking for. 2. Everybody Is Doing It Search the internet and you'll find security and alarm, networking systems integrators, communication specialists, access control installers, electricians and structured wiring, analog CCTV product companies, even the spy gear stores and HVAC contractors. They're all selling IPVS solutions as extensions to their existing business because they have a truck and a ladder and customers are asking for it. Good luck with that. Yep. Because IP's so hard no one can do it. 3. Nobody Has Heard of Them With such a diverse selection of installers, none gets a consistent or wide enough reputation to carry much weight. Plumbers and electricians are pretty interchangeable because they all do most things, but that's not the case with IP video surveillance installation. Even if I do find the right installer (and they happen to be close enough) there's a good chance that my job will be too big, too expensive, too technical, or won't get finished. Where's the nation-wide brand with a fleet of installers and a five-year warranty? I guess there's some truth to this, but ADT might beg to differ. They're a pretty ubiquitous brand. I think they might have advertised at the Super Bowl. Still, the market hasn't developed to the point that there are two or three totally dominant players yet, I'd agree. But with Stanley, especially, making such a hard push, I'd guess they're doing national mainstream advertising for security pretty soon, and Brink's might not be far behind, now that they've spun off and are talking about their commercial focus. 4. No Industry Standards Will this work with that? When I need more cameras will they work with what I have? If I spend more, will I get a better picture? How long will that work reliably? How many of those lights do I need to get a picture like this? They said that it would record ten days of video, but if I do the footage is too grainy to see anything. Snow? Of course we get snow. Is that why it's fogged up? Wrong bracket? Again? No we don't stock those, they have to be special-ordered. Again, I'd say five years ago this was a major problem. Today, not nearly as much. 5. Way Too Many Products There are 6000 companies making IPVS products. Can anyone really be making a decent profit with that level of competition? With only so many surveillance situations that need to be addressed it should take several hundred market-leading, high volume, low cost products from just a few manufacturers to cover 80% of the market, but instead there's a dizzying array. I completely agree with this. A bunch of IP video companies are going to go out of business. That market isn't mature, but that doesn't mean it's in its infancy. 6. Form Still Follows Function At a certain stage in its evolution, all technology becomes fashion. IP video surveillance technology isn't anywhere close yet -- not even a choice of colors. It will take high manufacturing volumes and commoditization before manufacturers seek new ways to differentiate their products and we enter this phase. Eh. TVs are still pretty ugly, if you ask me. Stereo components are still all black and ugly. Only the iPhone is at all styley, and that's still pretty plain. You should see how ugly the phone on my desk is and landline phone technology has been around for quite a while. Smartvue and ioimage make some good-looking cameras. I don't think this argument holds any water at all. I guess this is all semantics anyway, and I'm not sure why I spent so much time on this, but you get my drift. I think there are a lot of negative nancies out there, many of them with IT backgrounds, who want to slag the security industry with a broad brush of dinosaurism (how's that for some mixing of metaphors). In my experience, there are plenty of forward-thinking and intelligent integrators who are doing just fine, thank you, in the new era of IP surveillance. Is it in its infancy? No. That implies an industry that simply can't do anything (I've had infants pretty recently - they're just about worthless except to look at). I think the IP video industry is solidly in kindergarten and maybe even in the second grade or so, and I think that's worth acknowledging, rather than engage in hyperbole. Still, good to have someone like Steve around now to stir things up a bit. That's always a positive, in my book. Plus, he pointed out some bugs in my blog that will make everyone's experience better. Thanks, Steve.