North America owns 70 percent of mobile video surveillance market

A robust American market continues to dominate the global share on the strength of school bus and police car verticals
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Monday, October 7, 2013

LONDON—By a vast margin, North America remains the dominant sales region for mobile video surveillance equipment, according to a recent report from IHS, a global market research firm.

In 2012, the Americas contributed $346.6 million in revenue, good for 70 percent of the global share. The lion’s share of this revenue comes from the United States and Canada, which together account for more mobile video surveillance sales than the Europe-Middle East-Africa region ($83.3 million) and the Asia region ($68.7 million) combined.

The report predicts that by 2017, North American sales will climb to $489 million, compared to $116.2 million for EMEA and $91.8 million for Asia.

North America’s market dominance is not expected to diminish anytime soon, according to David Green, senior analyst, video surveillance and security services at IHS. Myriad reasons underlie this projection, some systemic, others about scale.

“There is a higher acceptance of video surveillance within the U.S.,” Green said. “There is certainly a cultural element to it, but I think it’s mainly about the market size.”

School buses represent a particularly fertile North American vertical, if only because the market is primarily U.S. specific. The other major vertical driving growth in mobile video surveillance is police cars.

Green says the budget cuts in many North American municipalities have forced certain police departments and other verticals with mobile applications to get more mileage out of older video surveillance systems until the next round of federal and municipal budgets gain approval. 

“That’s the nature of the recession, but generally I think things are improving,” Green said. “That’s going to release a lot of pent-up demand for the next several years, and what you’re seeing is the beginning of that.”

Still, some aspects of the mobile surveillance vertical were able to withstand the otherwise harmful effects of the recession. The number of first-time buyers, for instance, remains strong, Green noted. Even the gradual improvement of economic conditions could signal an explosion in refresh rates for video surveillance across several mobile verticals. Green believes economic improvement together with the sheer size of the North American market will sustain a robust market.

“In the short term, you’ve got two functions of growth: either your total market size increases or your adoption rate increases,” Green said. “In America, the adoption rate typically is quite high, but in terms of actual [rate of market growth] I’m not sure North America will remain the absolute highest.”

It’s possible both the EMEA and Asian markets, by virtue of having less mature markets, could outstrip North America in that respect over the next five years.

While the forecast is strong, certain factors could impede the lofty projections. Besides the vagaries of budgets and the economy, a potential ceiling for the North American market could be saturation, though Green said it’s “not at that point yet.” Manufacturers would also do well to increase awareness of mobile video surveillance systems that offer ancillary benefits, such as operational relief, which can carry great appeal for more fiscally strapped municipalities and institutions, Green said.

“If awareness of that kind of technology increases, that’s clearly going to be a driver of growth,” he said. “If budgets are tight and you’re looking at a security system or a security system that can also improve operational efficiency, guess which one you’re going to take?