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Hostage to cameras

Buyers buy cameras from these providers and 'own' them. But, contrary to decades of established practices, what they bought gives them no right to even the most basic use of those cameras. The cameras will not even stream video without having to pay those providers additional payments every year. If those payments stop, the buyer still 'owns' the camera but the cameras are useless, essentially bricks.

Until the last few years with the rise of Meraki, Rhombus, and Verkada, buying video surveillance cameras almost always meant being able to stream that video where and when you want, without having to pay ongoing fees.

Effectively, the cameras one 'owns' are now being held hostage:

  • If you want to stream video from those cameras you 'own' to any other system, you cannot or, at best with Meraki, you will have to continue to pay Meraki for the right to stream video from a camera you 'own'.
  • If the companies raise prices for their annual licenses, as an 'owner', you either need to pay it or brick the cameras.
  • If you buy cameras from other providers, even open, non-hostage taking ones, you cannot view those cameras in the same interface, a critical element for professional video surveillance, pushing 'owners' of such devices to use only those devices or brick them.

Locking in customers to this hostage scenario is no accident. It is the outcome of financial planning for these Silicon Valley companies, as Meraki and Verkada's founder explained: