Rise of a Digital Future May Still Leave DVRs Behind

Any dealer or integrator who sells video equipment knows how important DVRs are to networked video surveillance systems. This product has been one of the great innovations of the past 10 years and has made a major contribution to resolving the long-standing problems of using and maintaining analog tape recorders to store and retrieve video files.

Still, there are indications throughout the industry that some manufacturers, integrators and end users are seeing a shorter horizon for these great products due to the onset of IT convergence and the switchover from analog to digital network cameras.

Some of the most knowledgeable manufacturers, dealers and integrators, and end users were interviewed for J.P. Freeman Co.’s 2005 report on the worldwide video surveillance market. Repeatedly, concern was expressed for the next round of video surveillance innovations and what that new era will do to DVRs.

Onslaught on Analog Continues Video equipment sales continue to rise at almost a 20-percent annual growth rate tracing back to 9/11. New research shows one of the major concerns on the minds of end users are how to store all this inventory of video.

Per the chart on page 26 of the March issue, seven out of every 10 commercial users say they now use DVRs, and another 24 percent of users plan to buy new units for the modernization of their own storage and management systems.

Although analog recorders don’t sell well anymore in the face of this DVR onslaught, 40 percent of users still claim to use these older style recorders. The market sometimes moves slowly when it comes to the transition from an older technology to a new one.

Storage Alternatives Are on the Way
Just as digital continues to toss analog aside, there are alternatives on the horizon that could make the reign of DVRs a short one.

There is the prospect of the video market moving from analog cameras to digital network IP cameras, and advancing storage from DVRs to network video recorders (NVRs) — and beyond that to large IT storage units. Even now, IBM is constantly advertising its network servers on TV.

Some organizations are even considering the idea of transmitting their video to an outsourced organization with huge storage facilities in order to reduce capital investment and avoid the constant worry about internal capacity. The industry is at the early stage of these developments, and the initial question is when, if ever, will DVR sales begin to slacken. Will NVRs take the ascendancy as DVRs did to analog recorders?

Days of the DVR May Be Numbered
Right now, research at all industry levels suggests that DVRs have about three more years to run before they tip over into a declining trend. During these three years, the DVR growth rate will likely slacken as IP systems grow and use NVRs for file serving.

The irony is that manufacturers have gotten used to the strong DVR growth rate; dealers and integrators are still mastering the way in which DVRs can best be designed and installed into video networks; and end users still plan to buy new DVRs to replace existing analog storage.

Now, the technology is changing once more. As has been said, change can be difficult to cope with, but that’s the root of industry growth.


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