US Video Surveillance Manufacturers Face Increasing Chinese Competition


With the ability to offer low prices without compromising on technical specs, Chinese manufacturers of consumer video surveillance devices will outpace their US peers if market share boils down to a simple price war.

US manufacturers of consumer video surveillance equipment risk losing market share to their Chinese counterparts, which have able to compete on price without compromising on technical features.

Chinese video surveillance equipment makers accounted for some 5 percent of US market revenue last year, but high demand and supply in the China market could prove a “ticking time bomb” for US players, said Jimmy Dearing, IHS Markit’s residential security analyst.

He noted that the US had enjoyed exceptional growth in the last five years, clocking an average double-digit annual growth to hit US$830 million in revenue last year.

Increased smartphone adoption had fuelled consumer demand for surveillance, Dearing said, adding that the mobile devices offered video surveillance makers a platform to develop their user interfaces and offer consumers access to their surveillance systems from anywhere. Demand also was driven by better wireless technology, mobile data coverage, and connection speeds, as well as cloud storage and analytics services.

The affordability of such equipment further drove demand, with camera prices dropping by 50 percent in the past three years, the analyst said. This, he noted, could pose challenges to some players in price-sensitive markets, where suppliers offering the lowest prices eventually would gain control.

In the US market, for instance, a consumer-grade standalone network video surveillance camera sold for US$95 in 2015. In comparison, the average selling price in Asia stood at just US$27, according to Dearing, who added that models sold at lower prices would still offer good technical specifications. In China, for example, a 720p PTZ standalone network camera with remote connectivity, night vision, motion detection, two-way audio, a free 8GB micro SD card, and cloud storage options was available at less than US$20.

“Should these Chinese manufacturers intensify their export attempts, this could present the current US market incumbents with a real problem,” he said. “US suppliers are unable to compete at these prices because most of them actually OEM their product from a Chinese manufacturer to begin with. If the battle for market share ever came down to simple price war the Chinese OEMs would win, without question.”

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