While some Asian manufacturers have robust domestic business, most focus on opportunities abroad. Target regions included mature and emerging markets seeking effective solutions.
Hikvision did not specify its target regions for 2009. "For international markets, we are a newer player, we can't afford to focus on one single market or region," Yang said.
CSST has a global outlook, focusing on emerging markets and its domestic business. "Dubai is a trade point for the Middle East, and the African and Indian markets," Yap said. "Emerging markets provide opportunities, as they are looking for good products at a cheaper price."
Other emerging regions that providers will target include Latin America and Eastern Europe. Major mature markets for 2009 are Europe and North America, with the United Kingdom and the United States being key countries.
All vendors, Asian or otherwise, agreed public projects would be a focus in 2009, as private budgets shrink. Some of them expected growth from commercial markets.
"We have seen more growth from government projects — road safety, police use or public facilities — education, retail with PoS, and entertainment," Tai said.
China's Safe City public security initiative will be a continued focus for local providers Hikvision, CSST and Dali. Government spending is expected to increase, making public surveillance a key vertical for 2009.
CSST is betting on convergence for city monitoring. "We are going for a more comprehensive solution," Yap said. "Before, we were mainly in surveillance. Now we offer traffic, disaster recovery and response as well. In addition, we are now exploring the application of surveillance solutions in detecting and tracking pollution levels."
Hikvision will expand into multiple verticals. "The financial and transportation markets have a lot of opportunities, which changes for different countries and regions," Yang said.
VIVOTEK will look to commercial verticals. "Market segments to be focused on are small and medium businesses, the retail industry and education applications," Chen said.
Home users will be targeted by Hitron. "Commercial and residential markets are expected to grow more in the next year," Choo said.
Increased sales causes growing pains for Asian providers, ranging from product development to stereotypes. "We have to move quickly to meet with more safety and environmental regulations," Ho said.
Enforcing those regulations is important. For China, its international image has suffered from tainted exports. "The 'Made in China' perception is the main challenge for export," Yap said. "China is where Japan was 50 years ago, where Korea was 20 years ago. We are trying to break the mold."
Industry Weaknesses and Threats
The economic panic, cutthroat competition and lack of standards were cited as industry weaknesses. "The major challenges to Commax's future growth are the current worldwide financial crisis, the rise of oil prices and the real estate recession in the domestic market," Byun said. Other weak areas included "extreme and fierce" price competition and limited IT infrastructure, hampering the uptake of network solutions.
Competition continues to heat up, with Hitron seeing rivals from China and Taiwan. "With the rapid shift of the technology trend from analog and digital to network applications, the market has constantly allowed for new competitors from different industries to come into this market," Choo said.
Nearly identical products are another weakness. "Products on the market are excessive, cluttered and difficult to distinguish," Pang said. "This limits company development and industry standardization."
Hikvision is watching for network video specifications, which are undecided. "For hardware vendors, it depends on end users and what protocol they want to use," Yang said. "Manufacturers have to be ready for all kinds of protocol."
While no one knows how the economic meltdown will affect security, it is a threat CSST perceives as an opportunity. "I don't think a lot of companies are expanding, as they try to shore up their position," Yap said. "We see it as an opportunity to develop, penetrate and increase our market share."
Asia's manufacturers face a number of hurdles, but some are ready with a long-term plan. With innovation, affordable prices and targets, 2009 promises to be an exciting year.
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