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One man's projections for 2009

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
John Honovich posted a fairly controversial projection for the IP video market in 2009 yesterday. I'm at the very least jealous of his many comments. Before I get into any discussion of it, let me first say that I'm extremely skeptical of any of these kinds of projections. We run a "Stats" page in our paper issue where we recount one of these kinds of reports every month, and I always feel a little guilty about it. The numbers are always so round, the picture almost always so rosy. It's hard not to think that the researchers are just giving the potential buyers, usually larger manufacturers or potential investors in the market, what they want to read. It's not that I don't think IMS, especially, doesn't do its homework. It's just that I think it's very difficult to predict the future with any reliability, and I've thought that more so ever since I read the excellent Black Swan, a book that really changed the way I thought in a significant fashion. Basically, the book argues that it's always some completely unpredictable occurrence that actually molds the future, and rarely anything that anyone saw coming. Thus, predictions are just about always wrong. I highly recommend the book. So, with all of that said, what of John's predictions? Well, there are some round numbers, and some toying with statistics. Take the first sentence: IP Video market growth will slow by 66% next year due to the unfolding financial implosion. So, a casual read of that sentence gets you: "Whoah! Sales are going to slow by 66 percent! Crap!" (And, yes, people read like that. Trust me. There's no better confirmation of that than the anti-editorial emails I've been getting.) Of course, that's not what John is saying at all. He's say that GROWTH will slow by 66 percent. But, because IP video was growing so quickly, it can slow by 66 percent and still grow at a 15 percent rate. Got that? And 66 percent? You mean 2/3? What's that, the fourth roundest possible prediction, after 100 percent, 0 percent, and 50 percent? Why not 60 percent, or 70 percent? What I don't like about these kinds of numbers is that they imply precision, but in actuality are just as arbitrary as simply using an adverb like "significantly." If John's first sentence had read, "IP Video market growth will slow significantly next year due to the unfolding financial implosion," I'd have said, "Yeah, probably." But since he put in that 66 percent number, I'm all: "Pffft." But I obviously understand the way this whole "forecasting" thing works and I don't blame John for playing the game. That's how it works. People like numbers and dislike adverbs (assuming they can actually identify an adverb...). So, moving forward, there are a few points I would argue/add to: Easy Credit is Over The easy credit for consumers and businesses that characterized the last 5 years is certainly over. My projections assume that the current financial meltdown will be resolved and that basic liqudity will be restored to the marketplace. Nonetheless, even with this assumed, the regulatory and cultural pressures to restrain risky loans will leave credit far tighter relative to the past 5 years. This will have significant impact on both GDP growth and business investments. I agree that easy credit is basically over, but is easy venture capital over? I think there's still a bunch of private money out there that wants to go to work, and since the stock market isn't as great an investment anymore, more VC money may be eyeing the IP video market, where a 15 percent growth market isn't that bad. Getting big loans from banks? Hard. Getting $10 million from a VC fund? Maybe not so hard if you've got a decent business plan and a good management team. I think money is still out there for the taking and since many IP video companies are pretty small and don't need $100 million in capital fuel, the credit crunch might not affect the market that much. Capital Intensive Projects Will Largely Be Delayed With consumers spending less and credit being tighter, business will have to delay many capital intensive projects. Both the ability to justify such projects through market growth and the capacity to obtain financing will extremely difficult. IP Video is, by definition, a capital project. And since IP Video depends on new projects or replacement of analog CCTV systems deployed within the last few years, customers will need to obtain capital or draw down on cash reserves to purchase IP video systems. The financial pressure to resist will be intense. The ability to maintain existing CCTV system will be easy. This is definitely happening. At least four integrators in the past two weeks have told me that projects they were greenlighted (greenlit?) on were either pushed back or cancelled altogether after the developer couldn't get the funding it was banking on (ha! a bad money pun! sorry about that). Weak ROI of IP Video Will Be Exposed The ROI of IP video is generally weak. According to Axis' own numbers, the TCO reduction is only 5-10%. To a CFO, especially in a recession, these will not be attractive. The problems of IP video will be exposed. A rule of thumb often cited is that innovative technologies should reduce costs by 80%. One example is T1s versus cable modems. Cable modems provided 'good enough' high speed bandwidth at 70% less costs. This caused large migration from T1 to cable modem for Internet use. Unfortunately, IP Video offers such strength in eliminating analog fiber systems relevant to only a small fraction of security buyers. I think this argument misses the possibilities of leasing and video as a service. If end users can pay a monthly fee for IP video that they can both access themselves at any time, and have a video monitoring service access, they can reduce manpower fees a great deal, get a good deal of return on reduced shrink/less graffiti/property loss, and see HR benefits with real value. Also, the costs of the IP video system are dropping. Cameras are becoming more price competitive, encoders are making it cheaper to leverage an existing analog infrastructure, etc. I think integrators can be better at selling an IP systems' value than John assumes. There is a difference between actual ROI and perceived ROI, and some of that comes from good salespeople. And, finally: Where Do These Numbers Come From? These numbers are projections based on an analysis of macroeconomic conditions and competitive strength of IP video technologies. While I talk with numerous industry leaders, these numbers are not based on vendor projections. The uncertainy in any projection in these conditions is clearly high. Well, obviously. So why use numbers at all? The problem with numbers is that they're kind of designed to imply exactitude. When you tell someone you want $1,000 for your IP camera, you're not going to be happy if they give you $800 and say, "well, that's pretty close." We have the ability in the English language to talk about degrees. We can say the market is going to slow, growth is going to slow, there will be uncertainty, end users will take less risk, etc. We don't have to say, "end users will be 72.9 percent more squeamish." Maybe that's idealistic of me, and I understand predictions come with the obvious caveats attached, but I sometimes fail to see the point of the exercise. John's a smart guy and is the best new voice to come into the market lately, but he doesn't need to attach numbers to his thoughts for them to be valid and interesting.

Another back-and-forth about the editorial

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
As people say "yes," I'm posting dialogues about the (tepid) Obama endorsement. Here's one: On 10/15/08 2:00 PM, "Shannon Fox" wrote: Mr. Pfeifle, I must say that I found your editorial very disturbing and it, unfortunately, reinforces the true problem with our country – people willing to sell out their morals and core beliefs for a few dollars (or the belief of a few dollars). Yes, I make my living in the security industry. However, if the security industry was not around, I can earn a living doing something else. I am not willing to sell out my moral convictions simply to keep my business afloat! Do you want to fix our economy? Do want to fix industry? Do you want to fix this or that? Well, this can only be accomplished by fixing society. If you try to fix the after effects instead of the true problem, you are only fooling yourself. All of our problems are the result of a broken society and nothing else. People are willing to “look the other way” in regards to core beliefs and morals in order for financial gains. Fix this and everything else falls into place. If you put someone in office that has compromised morals (ex: supports the murder of innocent children, believes in teaching “alternative” lifestyles to children, etc., etc.) then you can expect a compromised society. There is nothing more important than morality – not oil, not the environment, not the economy! Once we can find a president with a solid moral foundation (and have people in congress, the court system, etc. that reflect the same morality) and will not sell out, everything will fall into place. This includes the economy, energy issues, foreign issues, etc. Unfortunately, we do not have a current presidential choice that truly reflects our needs. However, Obama is definitely not the man for the job. Thanks, Shannon Fox MonitorClosely.com (Asheville, NC & Vicinity - Sevier County, TN and the Tri-Cities) From: Sam Pfeifle [mailto:spfeifle@securitysystemsnews.com] Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:12 PM To: Shannon Fox Subject: Re: Editorial - Obama for president? Hi Shannon, I appreciate your feedback. As I said in the precursor to the editorial, I did not consider social issues in the editorial, as I felt they were outside the bounds of a business paper’s discussion. Unfortunately, we’ve already shipped our November paper, so I can’t run this as a letter to the editor before the election, but would you like this posted to my blog, so that your feedback can be heard ahead of the election? Cheers, Sam On 10/15/08 2:58 PM, "Shannon Fox" wrote: Sam, I understand that your main focus was from the business side and not the social side. However, I believe that is another major mistake within our country. You cannot separate social from business. Major problems arise when our core beliefs do not influence our business. You are welcome to post it to your blog. I appreciate all that you and Security Systems News does for our industry. Thanks and have a great day! Shannon

Smartvue on the little screen

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Well, I made it back safely from Essen, and I'll have some more thoughts on that later, but if you're looking for something to while away your morning after coming back from the long Columbus Day weekend, check out Martin Renkis pitching Smartvue: Not a bad video production, really. The office feels kind of homey, and I like Martin's take on formal (pocket handkerchief), but not too formal (no tie).

UTC gives up on Diebold

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Remember that UTC bid for Diebold? No, seriously, do you remember that? Well, turns out it ain't gonna happen, after all. After some previous bombast, UTC's note to Diebold announcing that it's giving up on the bid is pretty succinct: Mr. John N. Lauer Chairman Diebold, Inc. Dear Mr. Lauer: We have seen Diebold's financial restatements recently filed with the SEC and note that you have scheduled your annual meeting for November 12. In light of your extended refusals of UTC's requests for management discussions and due diligence, we are withdrawing our offer of February 29 to purchase any and all Diebold common shares at $40 per share. We had hoped we could negotiate a transaction that would have created substantial value for both your and our shareholders. It's unfortunate this won't happen. Sincerely yours, George David Chairman So, to sum up, Diebold did $1.5 billion in the first six months of 2008, with net income of $41 million, and UTC was offering about $2.6 billion for the whole kit and kaboodle. It's kind of easy to see why Diebold management wasn't eager to sell. However, Diebold stock sits at $27.77 at the moment of this writing, and it's hard to see how the stockholders are served by denying them a 30 percent premium on their shares . If I'm a Diebold shareholder (and I'm not), I'd be pretty psyched to get rid of my shares for $40 a whack, considering Diebold spent all summer valued right around $40, based on the UTC offer, and then plummeted to its current position what with the financial crisis (Diebold does a lot of business in banks) and general panic. Of course, the stock market makes no sense, since the positive numbers Diebold finally reported should have had a positive effect on the share price, but instead drove it down. If they're pulling in $3 billion, which is nearly $47 a share, they should be valued higher than $28 a share, if you ask me.

Devcon deregisters

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Saturday, October 11, 2008
In what appears to be a money-saving move, the Florida-based super-regional security company Devcon announced yesterday that it was deregistering itself from the SEC. This means that it won't have to file certain forms with the SEC. It is able to make this move because it has fewer than 300 people who hold its common stock. The deregistration is effective yesterday, Oct. 10. Devcon had been trading on the OTCBB since May when it was delisted from NASDAQ. Here's a story I wrote about that. At that time, Devcon's president Robert Farenhem told me the move had nothing to do with the underlying health of the business. From the story: Rather, he said, this move is necessitated by a breach of technical requirements to be listed on Nasdaq exchange, which he characterized as “harsh accounting requirements that security businesses suffer.” Devcon was notified in mid April that it was out of compliance with the Nasdaq requirement that it have a minimum of $10 million in shareholder equity. “Two and a half years ago we had $2.5 million in RMR,” Farenhem said, “and today we have $3.6 million in RMR … but over that period of time we have amortized about $40 million [for the purchase of Guardian International in 2007].” The Devcon statement yesterday said that Devcon "expects, but cannot guarantee, that its common stock will continue to be quoted on the Pink Sheets after it is deregistered." I'll be following up on this in the December issue.

Devcon deregisters

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Saturday, October 11, 2008
In what appears to be a money-saving move, the Florida-based super-regional security company Devcon announced yesterday that it was deregistering itself from the SEC. This means that it won't have to file certain forms with the SEC. It is able to make this move because it has fewer than 300 people who hold its common stock. The deregistration is effective yesterday, Oct. 10. Devcon had been trading on the OTCBB since May when it was delisted from NASDAQ. Here's a story I wrote about that. At that time, Devcon's president Robert Farenhem told me the move had nothing to do with the underlying health of the business. From the story: Rather, he said, this move is necessitated by a breach of technical requirements to be listed on Nasdaq exchange, which he characterized as “harsh accounting requirements that security businesses suffer.” Devcon was notified in mid April that it was out of compliance with the Nasdaq requirement that it have a minimum of $10 million in shareholder equity. “Two and a half years ago we had $2.5 million in RMR,” Farenhem said, “and today we have $3.6 million in RMR … but over that period of time we have amortized about $40 million [for the purchase of Guardian International in 2007].” The Devcon statement yesterday said that Devcon "expects, but cannot guarantee, that its common stock will continue to be quoted on the Pink Sheets after it is deregistered." I'll be following up on this in the December issue.

Still thinking about that editorial I wrote

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Friday, October 10, 2008
I know all of you are desperate to hear more about the hate mail I've been getting regarding that (tepid) Obama endorsement (if only because you want to revel in the great names I'm being called and agree with every one of them). But I'm not going to post anything particularly salacious. Instead, I'm asking certain people with whom I think I've had interesting exchanges whether they'd agree to have them posted here. Henry L. Homrighaus, Jr. CHS-V, DABCHS, is the first one who said yes. So here goes. First up is his first email to me, then you can read down: On 10/2/08 11:17 PM, "Henry Homrighaus" wrote: As much as I like your publication I think that I have decided I can live without it as have many of my colleagues as we find your editorial biased and based on flawed assumptions. As a business owner and operator for many years I can attest to the failed policies of increased taxation diminishing the incentives for independent businesses to expand, hire and grow their enterprises. Your thinly veiled enthusiasm for Barack Obama is not in keeping with the best interest of the security industry. Henry L. Homrighaus, Jr. CHS-V, DABCHS ProSecCon, Inc. www.professionalsecurityconsulting.com --- From: Sam Pfeifle [mailto:spfeifle@securitysystemsnews.com] Sent: Friday, October 03, 2008 8:04 AM To: Henry Homrighaus Cc: tpurpura@securitysystemsnews.com Subject: Re: Editorial October 2008 Hi Henry, First: Is this a letter to the editor that you’d like published? Second: I am, of course, sorry to hear that you are so upset with the editorial that you’ve decided to discontinue your reading of the paper. I wrote what I wrote, and I stand behind it, but I would ask just two questions: 1. Editorials are, by their nature, biased. That’s what editorials are supposed to do, express an opinion. I think my opinion is well argued and reasoned, and the question mark in the headline indicates that it was a difficult decision for me. So, is it possible to support a candidate other than one you support and not be “biased?” If so, help me understand how. 2. Which assumptions are flawed? Third: I’ve disagreed with any number of editorials in many newspapers and magazines that I respect, but have never denied myself valuable information because of it. My mother used to call that cutting off your nose to spite your face. Fourth: It is very unlikely that I’ll vote for Barack Obama, just as an FYI. I have long been a supporter of a multi-party system, and will likely vote for an independent candidate when it comes down to it. I think our political system is woefully broken and that neither major party actually has the interests of working people and business owners at heart. Cheers, Sam --- On 10/10/08 10:09 AM, "Henry Homrighaus" wrote: Hey Sam, Thanks for the offer and I will send you a letter for consideration. As you know for many years I have always supported Security Systems News as the best security trade journal because most of the time you guys get it right and usually first will has been very valuable to me in both my security consulting and Expert witness practices. I thought it unusual for your magazine to offer this view in an editorial fully understanding your right to support or express your opinion. An honest review of the Bush presidency would reveal that his tax cuts spurred the economy into action resulting in record federal income which was on the road to eliminating the deficit until we, the American people, voted the democratic congress in charge 2006 and if you recall gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. The democrats and Barack Obama would hold our current economic woes as a direct result of the Bush administration which tried to reform Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac in 2004 followed by an attempt in 2005 by John McCain who detail the results of falling to reform these agencies and behold. I am against any and all bail outs as they tend to increase the time for the free markets system to respond and correct the problems. This bail out plan is failing miserably and is costing the American people dearly especially in their 401K’s and Ira’s. Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Hilary Clinton and Barney Frank benefitted from the largess of these agencies in political contributions repeatedly denying that they was any problem and now want more control to “Heal” the problems. Barack Obama would be disastrous for the small independent business man with his tax policies, health care plan and the interference in family life by mandating what a family would be required to do to insure their children. Roughly 50% of the American tax constituency pays little or no taxes and his tax policy would further increase their returns in a blatant attempt to solicit votes at our expense. His behavior is only consistent with a socialistic theology and has no place in America. Since when has owning a home or health-care become a right or a responsibility of the federal government? Our failure to secure our borders and control immigration is responsible for over burdening our hospital and educational facilities. Forcing our financial institutions to make bad and liar loans has jeopardized our economy and now the income producing tax paying segments of our society are burdened with the problem which is patently unfair. The unintended consequence of our welfare system has resulted in generations of American families growing up without a father in the house destroying the time honored concept of family and resulting in an ever growing and never ending burden on society Barack Obama is a bad choice economically for American. I will vote for McCain but he was not my candidate which was Mitt Romney because of his proven executive ability. It comes down to this I don’t find Barack Obama credible or forthcoming because he won’t be candid about his relationships or associations but I don’t believe McCain will lie to me. I also see McCain as the underdog because I sense a certain bias in the media coverage to the detriment of journalism as the fourth estate. Your mother’s good sense prevails and I will continue to enjoy your publication and thanks for allowing me to vent. Thanks, Henry --- From: Sam Pfeifle [mailto:spfeifle@securitysystemsnews.com] Sent: Friday, October 10, 2008 9:30 AM To: Henry Homrighaus Subject: Re: Editorial October 2008 Thanks for your thoughtful response, Henry. Unfortunately, the November issue just shipped yesterday, so I won’t be able to get a letter into the paper before the election, but I’d like to post something on my blog, which is well read and in some ways better suited for a discussion of this sort. I could post this back and forth we’ve had directly, or I could post a response from you that would be similar to a letter to the editor. Let me know which you’d prefer, if at all. You and I agree on a number of points, and I think both parties share the blame for our current state of affairs. You talk about securing borders and dealing with immigration – that’s exactly why I’m so disappointed with our foreign policy and the war. I think we need to get our own house in order before we send hundreds of thousands of troops across the globe. You talk about the bailout being necessitated by bad loan policy – I’m very frustrated that this whole “ownership society” wasn’t lampooned when it was suggested. It’s very obvious that making loans available to people with no inclination or ability to pay them back is a very bad idea. Anyway, this email could get very long, but my essential point is that I’m glad to have you as a reader and I’m always interested in informed debate. I think it’s very important that these discussions are had so that people don’t just continue to always talk to the people they know agree with them. A good argument can do a great deal of good. Cheers, Sam --- Sent: Friday, October 10, 2008 11:30 AM Yes by all means post it on your blog and send me the link. I’m okay with the back and forth as I think it provides some stimulating dialog that deserves to be in today’s political discussion. Thanks, Henry

Essen, day 2

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008
People I met with (and/or poked around their booth) today: Primion. I knew literally nothing about these guys, who work in access, video and intrusion. Stopping by their booth, though, I was interested to see that they're taking the BACNET standard for building automation to Europe and finding success with it as a standard protocol. Smart company. Good design. Mobotix. Obviously, you've heard of Mobotix, but have you really looked at their product? By positing the camera as the central piece of the security system, with the "brains" of a DVR and needing only network attached storage, they create a fundamentally different architecture (VideoIQ does this as well, and there may be others I haven't been briefed on yet). And still they're open, and interface with a number of other cameras and software companies. Their numbers are pretty good, too. They report about $38 million in sales, with nearly $4 million in net margin. They publish a 19 percent EBITDA margin. HeiTel. Have you heard of this IP digital video company? I hadn't before I got here, but they have a stand (what they call a booth here) as big as my house. And the news they have for the Essen show is that they're coming to America. Basler. Yeah, they already came to America. Seriously, though, the company comes out of the machine vision space, and seems to have competitive IP cameras, and they're going to make sure you pay attention. Panasonic. You sure don't hear a lot of analog talk at Panasonic anymore. Where at ISC West the North American contingent put analog cameras in a ghetto (see definition 3b) off to one side, the Europeans here hardly mentioned the word "analog." They've unveiled new software and new training all geared toward bringing their legacy customers into the world of IP surveillance and reminding people they know how to make cameras and video systems. Did anyone think Panasonic would just drop their customers in a heap? Throw up their hands? And did you note that Panasonic threw their weight behind the PSIA (among a number of other companies, including Pelco, etc.)? Genetec. By all accounts, their biggest problem is how to staff their growth. Who knows what the starting point was, but 800% growth in five years is pretty solid, by my reckoning. They'll rattle off projects they've landed for hours, from airports in the Middle East to the entire Target chain. I'll try to draw some overall show conclusions on the flight back to the States tomorrow.

Essen, day 1, continued

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008
There's been a debate amongst the staff all day as to whether Essen is bigger than IFSEC. So I looked it up. IFSEC says 30,257 "professionals come together" this year. I'm guessing that means exhibitor attendees, plus regular attendees, plus various and sundry speakers, etc. But maybe not. Maybe that's just registered attendees. Security Essen says this: 1,027 exhibitors from 47 countries presented their products and services at the SECURITY Essen 2006. With some 40,000 trade visitors from 79 countries and an exhibition area extended to over 75,000 m², the world fair for security and fire protection recorded its best result so far in its successful history and clearly increased its lead as the world's No. 1 fair in this branch of industry. But I can't say that's really definitive, as there are some numbers open to interpretation there. Also, there's nothing that says Essen is as big this year as it was in 2006--other than my eyeballs, which seem to confirm it hasn't shrunk. But I won't judge by the first day of the show here, anyway, since it's a four-day show and I think tomorrow will be when the crowds matter.

Just sayin'

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008
For those of you who are angry about my recent (tepid) endorsement of Barack Obama: Check out how the end users are voting. According to the reasoning proposed by some recent emailers, the survey results indicate there are a lot of people in the industry in need of psychiatric help. Just pointing that out.

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