I recently had the opportunity to go to the Mobotix West Coast National Partner Conference (NPC), held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas Nov. 4-6. While I was really looking forward to attending the conference, I expected Mobotix to postpone the event. A week before the NPC, Hurricane Sandy devastated the company’s New York City office, as the building took in two million gallons of water during the storm. This affected power and other key building infrastructure so much that the Mobotix office will remain closed throughout the month of November.
Yet, despite it all, the company still pressed on, helping me to appreciate the discipline and resilience of our industry more than ever before. During the conference, some 170 attendees learned about new products added to Mobotix’s portfolio, including products such as the S14 FlexMount double hemispheric camera, MxAnalytics video analysis tool, which offers heat mapping and people counting, as well as a Mobotix iPhone and iPad app. And for all you integrators eagerly anticipating the Mobotix Global Partner Program, it will launch Dec. 1.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mobotix Chief Sales Officer Dr. Magnus Ekerot in a one-on-one interview about what the industry can expect in terms of technology for 2013. Read on as Ekerot tackles that question and explains how Mobotix can aid integrators in growing their businesses.
Let’s talk about how Hurricane Sandy has affected your business. How are you working with dealers that have been affected by the aftermath of this ferocious storm?
Dr. Magnus Ekerot: To be honest, we did not have crisis management for this type of storm, and we will definitely learn from it. It’s very, very unlikely that a hurricane of this severe force will hit that eastern border because it usually goes up along the Maryland area, so we weren’t really prepared. We did not have a checklist stating what should be done [in the event of a hurricane].
For our partners, we are rerouting incoming calls to Germany. Also, our inside sales managers that work inside the New York office are equipped with all the different necessities so they will be able to work from wherever they are staying. But it will be much easier for all of our partners to send an E-mail. It’s easier to respond to that because it will actually be faster.
What new Mobotix offerings do you think will help integrators expand their businesses?
Ekerot: I think your readers will probably appreciate is this new way of thinking of going from products to product platform because it’s such a different approach. It embraces everything that Mobotix stands for when it comes to the decentralized system, high-resolution hemispheric view, but it gives the opportunity for systems integrators and end users.
This product platform concept gives almost an unlimited amount of possibilities to build their own solution with products that Mobotix has already created, but to be able to go into different markets and verticals.
When you talk about home automation, you got a perfect thing because on the product platform, you can connect them to all of the other products that we already have. You will be able to see it on your iPad or iPhone and then in a few months, on your Android app.
With the M15 hemispheric dual lens camera [out in Spring 2013], users will be able to change the sensors, which is pretty revolutionary because no one has done that. In order to use this product in the best way, we might need another housing in order to house it, which is a lot faster to create the tooling to make the housing than to make the new product. We’re actually giving the opportunity to our customers to create the products themselves. That will give integrators the chance to create and to gain some extra lodging for their products, and that is what people are looking for. To me, that’s a match made in heaven.
You mentioned home automation earlier, and with T24 IP video door station Mobotix has entered that market. Why?
Ekerot: The initial thought is that that market is actually bigger than the security market. In 2015, the market for security cameras would be around 44 billion, but the market for home automation is perceived to be three times that, so with the expected growth rate of 120% year-over-year, it’s a huge market. It’s much more difficult to go into different segments of the market and to find your own niche, but that’s what prompted us to come to that market. It was the ability of using part of an already existing technology, such as camera technology, and merging that with knowledge that adds installation. Then we could create the product.
We wanted to be able to give the installers the possibility to move into other market segments as well. If installers already put cameras in a building, why not ask the client if they need a door station? So now installers are equally discussing the security market and the home automation/building automation. So those were the three things: commercially, the already existing technology and the market opportunity for our customers.
Where do you think the security industry is headed in terms of technology in 2013?
Ekerot: I believe that you will see a lot of discussion on megapixel technology. Where do we draw the line on how many pixels? Are we going to go up so that it will be 20 megapixels? I don’t believe so, but I think that’s a discussion that you will see.
I think that you will also see a further discussion about camera integration into other systems. That’s a struggle that most other companies have today. When the first IP cameras came out, that was the vision — that everything would be able to communicate over the Internet and IP will be the common denominator. But as so many of these companies have become successful with IP cameras, they’ve kind of forgotten that. But in order to be a bit more sexy and attractive on the market, I think they will be addressing that issue. It’s going to be very interesting to see that because generally speaking, all of these companies are hardware companies, so they can’t do it themselves without creating some havoc in the software industry.
I also think the pricing issue is also going to be addressed. If the prices are just going down and down and down, where does that leave the quality? That’s going to be very interesting to see.
What about analog technology? Do you think it’s on its way out?
Ekerot: It has to do with demographics. As long as you have the generation of people who grew up with analog products, analog will be here. But as the newer generation grows up, they’re taking managerial positions and they are the ones that are going to make purchases. They don’t have a natural connection to analog; they’re used to video games, mobile phones and PCs. I think that’s going to play a much bigger part than technology in itself.
For the analog guys, I say, “You decide over thousands or even millions of dollars to put an analog system in there, but for yourself, you go out and buy the best technology that you want for your television.” When I say that, and I know that I’m picking a fight. But no one can argue against it because that’s the fact. But, as long as these guys are doing that, you will see a lot of analog products being sold. The analog system is not going to be extinct for years.
How many years do you think?
Ekerot: I wouldn’t bet on that. I actually thought that the conversion from analog to digital would go a lot faster. Very few people in this industry expected that analog would hold onto it for that long, but it has. I do think that over the next three years, you’re going to see more IP systems sold, especially when talking about quality. But the already installed systems or systems that are working, they will of course be analog for a longer time because as long as it works, people won’t just rip it out.
I think that people will put analog systems in very, very cheap solutions when they could have had a better solution. With that said, it’s a cause for all of us IP manufacturers to discuss that and the advantages of IP. The enigma is really that the IP system is not more expensive [than analog]. At first glance it is, but people don’t tend to think about all the other things that you have to that you have to get in order to get a system. They usually only tend to look at the price of a camera. Of course, you can buy an analog camera for $99. Would you rather pay $99 or $789? It’s a huge difference. But then you need to put in a lot of other things into the system and the whole management perspective. It’s a quest for us that we have to be able to tell people and educate people about these solutions.
Ashley Willis | Associate Editor