Watch out: For analog technologies, digital means disruption. Just consider what happened to Switzerland’s watch movement industry with the arrival of cheap digital clocks. Or what electronic calculators did to the companies that made mechanical adding machines.
Now it’s the turn for closed-circuit television (CCTV). Used for surveillance in malls, hotels, casinos, and elsewhere, the systems still rely heavily on cameras that transmit analog signals to monitoring rooms where they are recorded on tape. Fully digital systems, which send images over the Internet to be viewed anywhere, were once considered inferior, but sales of this technology have exploded. About 30 percent of the $9 billion CCTV market has shifted to digital, according to IMS, with more to come.
Technology disruptions often leave market-leading companies flat-footed. That is the case in CCTV, says Christian Sandström, a researcher at Stockholm’s Ratio Institute. The leading seller of digital network surveillance video, he notes, is Axis Communications, a company with no previous background in the security industry. Meanwhile, established firms like Pelco and Bosch are losing market share.