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Canon-Axis buy: Integrators respond

Nunberg comments that the IP camera market is becoming commoditizedcommoditised, so even Axis’ double digit growth may be compromised

Recent news of Canon’s $2.83 billion cash bid for network surveillance leader Axis Communications came as a surprise to some, but many could easily digest the move as more consolidation of the marketplace, especially the crowded video surveillance space. Systems integrators weighed in on what they expect and the long-term outlook for IP camera leader Axis and Canon, a Japanese firm predominate in broadcast, optics and consumer electronics.

Joe Liguori, a partner at Access Control Technologies Inc., Clifton, N.J, says he is a little surprised by the announcement, but even more amazed by the purchase price. “Obviously, the price Axis was able to command tells of the magnitude of the size of the market and their position,” says Liguori, a past president of Security-Net who currently chairs the group’s national accounts program. “But there needs to be consolidation in the marketplace, because potential growth won’t support all the players.”

Liguori says the fact that Canon is buying the company also came as a revelation; he says Canon has been “a quiet company” in the security industry. “I’m sure they are looking at how they can complement their existing business to become more powerful.” He adds that at the time of the interview he had not heard directly from Axis; Security-Net is a Platinum Channel Partner for the IP camera firm.

Bob Stockwell, chief technology officer, Stanley Security Solutions, Indianapolis, says Axis reached out to them following the announcement and reassured the company it would be business as usual as they continue to operate as a separate entity. He adds that Stanley is one of the largest partners for Axis, ranking about third in camera sales and with about 80 percent of Stanley’s surveillance installations using Axis brand IP cameras.

“I think it makes an interesting combination with what Canon has to offer,” Stockwell says. “They are big in broadcasting and consumer electronics and manufacture optics. Hopefully it will be business as usual, and we will be able to work with the same Axis team members. We also look forward to even more interaction and believe the combination will result in additional technology innovation.”

Stockwell echoes Liguori’s comment about Canon being a bit of a sleeping giant. “It’s interesting to see Canon go on an aggressive stance with this acquisition because they’ve always been quiet in the security space. We’ll see how the companies mix, but I think it’s wonderful.”

Jeffrey Nunberg, president and chief executive officer of Integrated Security Systems in Miami, says the future is still unknown
Axis reached out to Stanley Security and reassured the company it would be business as usual

Jeffrey Nunberg, president and chief executive officer of Integrated Security Systems in Miami, says the future is still unknown as far as whether or not Canon will let Axis run independently. “It’s hard to say what will happen. Typically you don’t see any change for a year, so we’ll have to wait at least 12 months. Canon claims they will let the company remain as it is, and nothing will change. But everything changes. If Canon maintains the Axis team that gives the company their flavor, their mojo, everything will be OK. It’s certainly a good time to be a shareholder,” Nunberg adds.

Nunberg comments that the IP camera market is becoming commoditised, so even Axis’ double digit growth may be compromised in the future. Even so, Integrated Security Systems stands by the Axis brand with about 90 percent of its cameras purchased from the company. “We love Axis and are big fans. We can install their products faster and they rarely have any units bad out of the box.”

Integrated Security Systems has been installing Axis cameras for about six years and is a Gold Channel Partner. Nunberg says he called the company after hearing about the acquisition.

“If there is change, I hope it means more innovation. At this point I don’t know what Canon brings to the table. If I were Canon, I would let Axis run their business. They have a lot of experience in security,” he adds.

Rapid Security Solutions LLC in Sarasota, Fla., is not a channel partner but sells Axis cameras. Steve Paley, president and chief executive officer, says he is hopeful the purchase will allow Axis to provide a better focus to smaller companies operating in the U.S. market.

“I think it’s important for international or non-domestic manufacturers to really understand the U.S. market. A product may be good, but perhaps it’s not supported properly. If Canon truly puts their resources and capabilities behind Axis to further support the U.S. market in a way that has not been done before, then the acquisition is a good thing.”

Paley says Axis has not focused on selling to small- to medium-size integration companies. “For the smaller integrators, there’s huge potential, but we haven’t been able to fire on all cylinders because the programs and structure were not necessarily friendly to the smaller integrator. That’s how I think it can be a positive; if they recognise the potential for installations with the smaller companies in the systems integration industry. Canon obviously bought Axis because there’s potential to bring their company to a new level. The Axis product is great, and they have some great people. I think there’s an opportunity to strengthen their partnerships with small-to-medium integrators, where typically we have been frozen out because of pricing and structure.”  

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