Security

The Commoditization of Video Surveillance Cameras

The Video Surveillance manufacturing business with the exception of a minor blip in 2009 has delivered consistent profitable growth over the last decade. This is a great achievement considering the difficult trading conditions brought about by the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Fortunately latent demand was there to be exploited by an industry that managed to improve the performance of all components particularly video cameras and the development of IT Network cameras. So is the industry now ready for the new challengers and opportunities in the next decade? Our 2016 Annual Report The Physical Security Business 2016 to 2021 identifies 3 major issues that will most influence the shape of the industry in the next decade and sets out the strategies to meet the needs of the new and very exacting challengers ahead. The first and most immediate challenge for western based manufacturers is the need to scale up volume and quickly. They have […]

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The Video Surveillance manufacturing business with the exception of a minor blip in 2009 has delivered consistent profitable growth over the last decade. This is a great achievement considering the difficult trading conditions brought about by the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Fortunately latent demand was there to be exploited by an industry that managed to improve the performance of all components particularly video cameras and the development of IT Network cameras. So is the industry now ready for the new challengers and opportunities in the next decade?

Our 2016 Annual Report The Physical Security Business 2016 to 2021 identifies 3 major issues that will most influence the shape of the industry in the next decade and sets out the strategies to meet the needs of the new and very exacting challengers ahead.

The first and most immediate challenge for western based manufacturers is the need to scale up volume and quickly. They have within 5 years been completely out flanked by two Chinese manufacturers Hikvision and Dahua, that were only formed relatively recently and not even regarded as serious competitors by most suppliers only 6 years ago. They now dominate the mainstream market.

Both of these companies have specialized in video surveillance and are now by far the largest 2 companies in the world, having combined revenues of around $5 billion. Until more recently they did not have products at the leading edge of technology in the high growth IP Network camera business.

The last two years has seen a slowing down in revenue growth of the world’s video surveillance business, which is not attributable to a decline in demand but aggressive pricing by Chinese manufacturers. They have adopted this strategy in order to win market share and scale up volume to take advantage of future commoditisation.

The major concern of western manufacturers in the Video Surveillance industry today is how to counter the phenomenal growth of Chinese products rapidly winning market share in their local markets without reducing their prices to derisory margins, which would not be sufficient to properly recoup their R&D costs.

There is no indication that Chinese suppliers will change their pricing strategy as it is clearly working for them. Whilst at the same time they have almost total control of their home market. The largest single country market in the world and protected by the fact that today more than 50% of the business comes from the public sector; imported equipment is not going to win this business.

A possible solution is for major western companies to merge or acquire video surveillance companies if they want to remain viable in the mainstream market. This would bring about major structural change in the industry and if that option is not taken, major structural change could be inevitable anyway. In our new report, we have identified other solutions that could provide a profitable existence but they go down the specialization route which ultimately could force companies into becoming system integrators.

The second and interlinked factor in all this, is the commoditization of video cameras, which has an inextricable connection for the need to go for volume. At this time western manufacturers have sophisticated products and know-how that they have built into their cameras and software. However much of this will over the next five years be built into the silicon chipsets by manufacturers like Ambarella and Movidius.

“Siliconization” of video cameras has been taking place over the last few years with the functionality of complex megapixel cameras becoming integrated onto chips. Chipset providers are already able to deliver sophisticated camera functionality in silicon today and you can expect them to move this forward.

Now major chip manufacturers like Intel and Qualcomm are seeing the potential for video cameras to be the "King of Sensors" in Smart Cities. They have now moved into producing the next generation of video chips. In the case of Intel they have also developed a software platform on which middleware for all the services that go into delivering a Building Internet of Things (BIoT) can reside.

This now brings us to the third major challenge which is how do to process all the data streams from millions of video cameras and make sense out of it all. This will not be achieved by humans watching screens and aided by relatively simple analytical software that can identify and pinpoint interesting and unusual activity.

It will only be achieved by using computer algorithms and Big Data software to analyse and automatically take action. Nothing short of this will fulfill the promise of IoT and take video surveillance into another realm. The returns for those that succeed will far exceed what has so far been achieved by successful video surveillance companies.

This article was taken from our new research report - The Physical Security Business 2016 to 2021; Access Control, Intruder Alarms & Video Surveillance, which can be purchased for $1,500 USD for a single user license.

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