Ok, that seems like a bit of a sensational title, but it's not far from the truth and I'm not the only one to think so as the prominent HIKvision dealer Since 2013, Use-IP, have issued a similar statement.
I use a number of HIKvision cameras, both at home and at work, and genuinely believe them to be pretty much the best quality at the price point. They're reliable, and these guys give the established names like Axis (whom I've used IP cameras from since 2004!) healthy competition.
HiWatch by HIKvision
HIKvision are introducing a 'consumer' range called "HiWatch" - these products will have a maximum resolution of 4MP, and will mainly use ‘ring of LEDs’ IR in place of the newer & better EXIR2 LEDs used on HikVision’s most recent cameras. They will also not use HikVision’s latest 75% more bandwidth and storage efficient h.265+ CODEC. In addition, it is of course a very limited range of just a few camera models.
If you want anything else; e.g. better IR (like all my outdoor cameras!), higher resolution, more efficient video, interoperability with tools like ZoneMinder etc, then HIKvision simply refuse to sell you it!
Essentially, HIKvision are introducing an inferior product to compete with low-budget brands, the very brands that I don't use because I can get HIKvision!
I contact HIKvision sharing my concerns and was met with the following (canned!) response
As is well known, professional HIKVISION products are highly technical devices that require substantial product knowledge for the best possible system design, installation, support, and maintenance that our customers and end users deserve. Unfortunately, a large amount of products now are acquired from unauthorized channels and are not valid, up to date, or genuine HIKVISION products and accessories with qualified warranty or technical support.
For your protection, and to ensure you receive the best advice, technical support, and genuine HIKVISION products and accessories, HIKVISON is proceeding to build the selective distribution program in EU and UK(hereinafter referred as “HIKVISION Selective Distribution Program”), a new way different from generally intensive and exclusive distribution.
For HIKVISION Selective Distribution Program, HIKVSION establishes a set of criteria for authorized distributors (hereinafter referred as “Authorized Wholesalers”) and authorized system integrators/installers (hereinafter referred as “Authorized System Integrators/Installers”) (“Authorized Wholesalers” and “Authorized System Integrators/Installers” together referred as “Authorized Partners”), who are required to meet certain criteria and responsibilities mandated by HIKVISION. This includes not limited to the establishment and maintenance of the service staff, facilities, plant and equipment at one or more locations suitable for the satisfactory maintenance and repair of the HIKVISION Products. In other words, only the one who meet the relevant criteria can be the Authorized Partners, which HIKVISON products can only be bought and sold by, including online and offline. And the Authorized Wholesaler will only operate at the wholesale level of trade, and shall not sell the Products to end-users and the Authorized System Integrator/Installer will sell the HIKVISION Products to end-users at the retail level.
HIKVISION Selective Distribution Program will make sure that Authorized Partners have invested the time and resources in being knowledgeable in HIKVISION products so that they can provide the best products choices to protect the end users.
In addition to this, they added the following;
As you said that you had an excellent in-house resources, I would like to invite your installation team to come to our office for the free products training, to get certified and become an authorized installer, even though you only install for yourself.
Great, so in order to buy HIKvision cameras for my own use, or that of my business, I need to attend free training to become an authorised installer for myself
This is ridiculous.
I can understand what they're doing but this still seems particularly arduous to become an “authorised installer” and attend training courses for products we already use! Especially given that we don’t have a regular need for them.
To put it in perspective…
I manage Paxton Net2 access control systems, again this is fairly specialist "security" kit and (arguable) some people would require extensive training to install.
We’ve never attended any but can buy the components we require through a network of distributors without any issue. We’ve even had other suggestions we’ve made to improve the Net2 software implemented, together with bug reports fixed.
Likewise companies like Texecom (who manufacture our alarm system) - they were happy to provide engineering software, and we can source parts from numerous resellers as required.
HIKvision are very much the exception here, and unfortunately where companies put barriers in the way of working with them nine times out of ten the simpler solution is to find another company.
I know I’m only one (small) customer, but I simply can’t be bothered with the hassle. The products are (very) good, but others come close, and will catch up I’m sure - especially if they lose sales to them, they can invest more in R&D.
HIKvision were, in my mind, a fast-growing success due to the quality of the products but also the price point and accessibility compared to solutions like AXIS and SONY IPELA.
This change removes part of that (well balanced) equation, and I expect another company that’s where they were 5 years ago will take their place.
In the meantime, if anyone knows of any decent IP cameras (Dahua maybe?) other than HIKvision... let me know.
In the interim, despite their new policy you can still buy many of the "professional" range that are now "restricted" from various sellers of HIKvision products on Amazon and, of course, eBay.
This makes even more of a mockery of restricting supply to reputable resellers like Use-IP because products will still be supplied to end users, just through other channels.