Are We Missing the Wireless Wagon?

Will there be a camera on every block in a few years? A lot of security manufacturers, distributors and integrators appear to believe that it’s one of their mealtickets to future growth. And judging by the growth in video equipment sales, there is little question that it is indeed the direction of the industrialized world.

As the post-9/11 terrorist attacks in the London subway, Madrid train station and fires in downtown Paris have shown us, the western world is not just suffering from a mild case of paranoia. A relative of mine works for the United States Secret Service, and while I was cleared for “top secret” in the Army, I cannot access any information in that department, despite the connection. But it could be that in 20 years or so, a retired government operative will publish a book about actual terrorist threats on American soil that were fortunately nipped in the bud.

It might take until then to develop a full appreciation of what’s going in the world now — most of it terrorism, but some of it anarchy, and now, unhappily, high school and college shootings.

Wireless Cameras in the Limelight

As more of these events and threats are presented to us on the evening news, security camera acceptance by government, commercial, industrial and institutional organizations is rising steadily. And like PDAs, they’re steadily working their way into our social fabric. In fact, the growth trend in video surveillance installations in Europe, Asia, Latin America and other developing parts of the world is expanding at an even faster pace than in the United States. They’re mobile, as well as fixed, and are now commonplace in school buses, police cruisers and over-the-road semis.

On top of that, we’ve got YouTube producing social streaming video, and cellphones, Blackberrys, Treos and even shirt buttons taking pictures for security purposes. With these items in mind, we asked video security manufacturers what they thought about the wireless video camera sector. To our surprise, they reported that about 11 percent of all security camera sales were of the wireless type in 2005, and by the end of 2010, the number will double to 22 percent.

How could this be? We checked, and the data were correct. But if the security camera market is growing at an average of 15 percent a year with the real possibility of an up-tick in the case of an “event,” what happens when the wireless category share of the whole camera market grows from 11 percent to 22 percent? The obvious conclusion is that wireless cameras will bring a bonanza to the share leaders in that category.

To be exact, if a market grows at a 15-percent rate during five years, its absolute size doubles, which is the likely story of the overall video security market as well. And if a sales share within that market doubles — as manufacturers say the wireless category will — the absolute sales level of the wireless category will quadruple. That’s the snapshot of the wireless camera market for the years 2005 through 2010.

With all the attention being given to the convergence trend, isn’t this a trend-within-a-trend that’s receiving too little attention? Is it, can it, and will it be part of the convergence trend? We may call you in a bit to do a future double-check on your opinions of this potential “sleeping giant.”

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