Isn’t security full of surprises

March 2015 News

We’re just finishing off our March issue and the news breaks that Canon is now buying Axis for $2.8 billion – or that’s the offer and the Axis board is feeling all warm and fuzzy about it. This just a few months after Canon bought Milestone ( Now Canon has the leading surveillance software developer and the leading camera manufacturer and (arguably) innovator to supplement (or more likely replace) its own surveillance camera business.

Milestone and Axis make a good combination, even if Canon intends to keep the two brands separate. Both have a history of innovation and support for open platforms, but that also makes Canon’s next move a bit tricky.

If Canon plans to use both products to offer clients a hardware/software combination, it is definitely on a good wicket. You can’t really go wrong offering the global leaders in software and hardware in a bundle. But the question as to the product’s openness must be asked – as well as the impact on their respective partners. A tightly integrated bundle might be the answer to the threat from China. The days of Chinese products being cheap and nasty are long gone – as was confirmed in the round-table Hi-Tech Security Solutions held for next month’s CCTV Handbook.

When you look at brands like Hikvision, Dahua, and Sunell, for example, they hold their own in today’s market, but still manage to offer better pricing than the traditional leaders (for now, anyway). So if you can’t compete on price, you need something else to attract customers to your wares. Perhaps a hardware and software combination will do the trick.

Whether it’s the looming Chinese giants or poor economies in the West, the security market is definitely consolidating. Canon has decided it’s not going home, but is going as big as it can get; Avigilon has spent a fortune on video analytics technology to support its multi-megapixel hardware (a significant competitive differentiator even if it doesn’t start suing everyone); Panasonic bought its own VMS manufacturer earlier this year, VideoInsight; Samsung sold its video surveillance business; Bosch bought an integrator in the USA, Climatec; and Tyco bought Exacq in 2013. Have I missed any of the big deals?

Whatever happens with Canon’s strategy going forward, this acquisition definitely marks the end of an era. From the early days when Axis products were distributed by SCS in South Africa before the company was bought out by Axis to form the local office – both entities run by Roy Alves – the company has been at the centre of the ‘IP revolution’ and the acceptance of open standards in security. Naturally there were also other cheerleaders, like Milestone, but I think it’s fair to say Axis was the one who stirred the pot most, and did it most successfully.

Perhaps we can look at Canon in a year’s time and see what the company has done with the two jewels it has acquired. The right strategy will put Canon firmly on top; the wrong strategy will see the end of two great surveillance pioneers.

Perhaps we should look at the local market as well. How will consolidation impact South Africa’s security industry? Which distributor is looking round? Is there any point to developing local technology anymore? A couple of years ago IDS bought GSC, then Regal bought the reborn Reditron and merged it with IPSS, Bytes bought Brand New Technology and there have been a few other smaller changes. And let’s not forget that Securex is back as we say goodbye to IFSEC SA.

Anyone want to guess what the next big local news will be?

Andrew Seldon



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