By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
SANTE FE, SPRINGS, CALIF. — It’s not every day that you come across burgeoning CE categories, but in the case of home security, the news has been good, good, good for Swann.
TWICE recently caught up with Keith Oldridge, president and vice chairman of the company, to hear how things have been going for one of the major players in the home security category. Swann celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and the company marked the occasion with a series of events around the globe.
David Swann, chairman and founder of the company, flew from Melbourne, Australia, to Long Beach, Calif., for a multi-day celebration with employees, vendors and customers. Swann also held festivities in its Australia and Hong Kong offices.
The compay had quite a bit to be merry about, according to Oldridge. The Swann Group recorded more than $100 million in sales in its last fiscal year, ended June 30, which was up 90 percent from the prior fiscal year, he said. Seventy percent of those sales were in the U.S.
“This is one category that is growing in all of consumer electronics,” Oldridge noted, adding that Swann is also preparing to enter the Russia, Germany and South America markets.
The growth spurt can be attributed to a variety of factors, Oldridge said, but Swann has found its most devoted customers are the small-business owners. He cited research from Costco that said 62 percent of sales in the home security category are for small businesses. Swann’s most popular product, he said, is its eightchannel DVR with four cameras, with the option to add another four cameras, making it a suitable configuration for any-size family home or a small business.
“We have significant data to tell us who are our customers, and we think it started with the consumers and gravitated toward the small-business owners.”
Whereas home security used to be anchored to a third party for installation and monitoring, current technology now makes the category an easy DIY solution.
“Before you needed ADT [or other] alarm companies to do any sort of monitoring,” Oldridge said. “They were the alarm part, but they weren’t very strong in the monitoring part and you had to pay a monthly fee. Now with the technology being available to do it yourself, you can call our call centers and be up and running in five minutes.”
As is with so many CE categories, the influence of Apple played a hand in its expansion. “The app technology is what made [home security] ready for the general public,” he said. “Before it was too complicated or too costly. Now it’s absolutely just another app.”
So where is the category heading? “What we’re finding in the next couple of years is those that bought old analog tech four or five years ago [are now] upgrading to new digital technology.”
For those consumers looking to upgrade, Oldridge said the next phase in home security will be homeautomation integration. “More and more of our equipment will start to integrate carbon monoxide sensors, light sensors, motion sensors that can alert you on your phone — open your windows, close your doors. You’ll have one box, and you’ll be able to operate it from anywhere.”
To keep up with these expectations, Swann is hunting around for the best companies to acquire that will help it stay current with the necessary wireless technology, Oldridge said. “We think we can grow organically very successfully, but if we call out the right companies and technologies, I think we’ll be doing ourselves a good service … The method at which the info is transferred is very important. As that’s developed for the iPads and iPhones, it’s really important we keep ahead of it. If we keep ahead of it, we can get the new technologies to communicate between the boxes and the cameras — such as Zwave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth — and if we bought a company with that technology, that would help us.”
Oldridge also noted, “Product development has become the most important part for our future so we can keep ahead of the curve,” and shortly after talking with TWICE, Swann announced two wireless network cameras that allow for the much-clamored-for remote monitoring: the SwannEye wireless IP network camera and the SwannSmart Wi-Fi network camera. The SwannEye can be controlled from an Apple or Android smartphone or tablet by downloading an app. The camera shoots real time MJPEG video at 30 fps up to 640 by 480 resolution. It can remotely pan and tilt to 350 degrees horizontal and 100 degrees vertical, and there is a built-in two-way mic and speaker.
The SwannSmart Wi-Fi network camera uses an app by iSecurity+ for remote viewing on a PC or portable device. Users can capture events and receive push notifications.
Suggested retail for both devices is $129.
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