The security week that was: 12/14/07

A weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

Bosch Gets Extreme

Call it late-breaking news or something that some had seen coming, but it's hard to beat the news of Bosch's announcement that it plans to purchase Extreme CCTV. Bosch will be paying roughly $92 million for Extreme CCTV, which is known best for active infrared illumination that enables CCTV cameras to "see in the dark", or at least in low-light situations. They also make some hardened camera systems designed to withstand maritime environments, the weather, and even explosions.

Jack Gin, CEO of Extreme CCTV, wrote to me this morning and said that the acquisition had a lot to do with synergies in the companies and Bosch's recent growth. He said both firms matched in their values, and the acquisition would allow Extreme CCTV to retain the Extreme CCTV values and corporate culture.

"They are an amazing private company owned by a charitable foundation and run by a dedicated board of management," said Gin, who added that Bosch's propensity towards engineers and inventors fit well with his own company's model.

Increasing DIY Surveillance
A road sign for the professional installing firm?

Step back about a decade, and you might recall some IT integrators worrying that the influx of low-end, "plug-and-play" routers and switches might mean that entire corporate networks could be built without needing specialized knowledge. Those worries obviously proved wrong, as the integrators and super-knowledgeable in-house staff have only become more necessary as the technology improved. Simultaneously, traffic expanded and needs became more complex.

Now, in the last couple years, we have seen a massive number of consumer-level surveillance cameras launched, especially consumer-level "network" cameras. This week, Linksys likewise announced that it was pushing into that product area.

I call these consumer-level cameras because they can be set up by your average business or homeowner, and there's no need to get highly specific recording equipment, matrixes or encoders/decoders. Like the cheap-o cameras you could plug into your family's VCR, this market is centered on the ability to "Do It Yourself."

What does the continued expansion of this market area mean for the "professional" installing companies? I've been wrestling with that question for a couple days now and here is what I've concluded:

• These lower-end systems may whet the appetite for the complex, integrated professional systems.
• They're going to whet the appetite because consumer-level, user-managed systems promise to throw in a kink somehow -- maybe the user updates his/her PC's operating system and the camera no longer is accessible or no longer records clips.
• The nicer DIY systems ARE going to take away some sales your installing business might have landed at small businesses.
• But you probably lost that sale because you never called upon that potential client anyway, and when they had the need for video, they decided it was easier to buy a product direct from Black Box Networks than to look up security firms in a phonebook.
• More camera production to meet consumer demand means prices drop on the equipment across the board (pro-level and consumer) -- but your expertise for installing professional-grade equipment won't be any less valuable.
• Smaller tech and consumer product distributors might get a leg up on the old standby distributors.
• They can do that because they already have the relationship with the consumer tech product manufacturers.
• Eventually these DIY manufacturers will spec some true pro-grade equipment.