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IP security cameras: a growing opportunity?

Jeff Root explains what resellers should look for in a security camera

IP Security Camera
IP Security Camera

It’s fair to say that in recent years, with the emergence of affordable, wireless IP security cameras, the need for expensive installation and lots of wires trailing around a house has disappeared. This is great news for property owners – and for resellers looking for new markets to address.

Old analogue security systems are still available, but they lend themselves to a specialist reseller environment. For technology resellers, IP security cameras are a much more attractive proposition. They have broad appeal and a mass market to sell into – today, every home or business could have some sort of camera or monitoring system installed, providing reassurance and the ability to check up on a building remotely.

In fact, just about everyone is a potential buyer. IP protocol and WiFi with simple WPS security are standard across every industry and home in the country, and with the emergence of the smart home, security cameras are only going to become more common – Big Brother is here to stay.

So, what do you need to know to start addressing this market? What is the market looking for? How do you sell the benefits to end users? And, with an already huge selection of products to choose from, how do you pick the right products?

Cloud storage

The first thing is to determine whether the product in question is just an IP camera, which only shows live streaming, or a true security camera, which allows you to record to SD card or the cloud.

A cloud storage option is key for successful monitoring and security. A burglar could easily steal a camera or SD card and switch off the power. But if the device is recording to the cloud, some footage will have been captured and stored in the cloud for viewing later.

On the better cameras, cloud storage is included free or, at least, as an optional upgrade, which could provide resellers (and manufacturers) with an ongoing revenue stream.

Image quality

A second major consideration is image quality. HD cameras are available but you will need to be mindful of the upload bandwidth required to stream a live image. In my experience, setting the camera stream resolution to 720p reduces the upstream demand and produces perfectly adequate images.

Easy set up

Simplicity is key to getting users to buy into a concept and that means, above all else, simple set up. Look for WPS pairing and easy to use phone apps that are clear and not misleading. It’s surprising how many products still require IP addresses and Mac info to be input manually – this is a sure way of telling how old the software is.

Selling points

Then, there are all the selling points manufacturers use to differentiate one product from another. The key ones in this market are camera resolution, night vision options, real time alerts, cloud storage options, a two-way audio capability, scheduling (the ability to turn a camera on at specified times) and regular OTA firmware upgrades from the manufacturer.

Home automation

As with all technology products, specifications for security cameras are constantly and rapidly evolving. With the introduction of the IFTTT standard, the technology has jumped again by enabling users to integrate security cameras with home automation systems and devices such as Hive, Alexa, Philips Hue and many more. You could, for example, set up the camera to take a snapshot when, and only when, a light is switched on – very handy for seeing who’s pilfering stationery from the storeroom.

Legal responsibilities

As with every recording device, there are laws surrounding filming and privacy. If you are recording in an office or public space, you should always alert people to the fact by displaying appropriate signage. This in itself could act as a deterrent.

Other considerations for resellers are margin, of course, as well as whether to go for an established brand, which consumers will find reassuring, or a less well known vendor that might help you stand out in a crowded market – as long as the product ticks the right boxes.

Here are a handful of products that, in my opinion, are worth a closer look: Nestcam, Spotcam HD, Netgear Arlo, Samsung Smartcam SNHP6410 and the Panasonic KXHN6002.

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2020