Some strange doings at the Engebretson “bunker in Bucktown” have occurred in the past year. Our house has two decks, one off the kitchen door and a smaller one connected to the master bedroom above. Last fall we started to see some truly bizarre events. Dead pigeons, split down the middle with all of the breast meat removed, were appearing on the railing of the upper deck.

That’s right, on the railing and not on the floor of the deck. When two or three of them were lined up it looked like some kind of Quentin Tarantino movie’s pigeon buffet line. When my wife would point out the carcasses I would do the manly thing and dispose of the deceased. The real question was why was this happening? Soon after I had cleaned up a few of the victims, my wife informed me that another pigeon was on the railing. This time I took a very careful look around my backyard through the window, and to my surprise, saw a very large peregrine falcon perched on a pine tree bough about five feet from the killed bird. I opened the door to the upper deck and the falcon turned his head to give me a Robert DeNiro Taxi Driver “You lookin’ at me?” glance, and then he (or she) went back to guarding his meal. After a bit of studying we found out that our backyard guest is one of the biggest and baddest birds of prey in North America.

The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of two hundred miles an hour when it dives for its target. What I also found interesting is that these falcons will only capture and kill other birds that are flying in the air. It stands to reason that a bird that is flying is relatively healthy, while a bird on the ground maybe not so much. That anecdote brings us to the state of the IP video market. Recently Google, through its Nest subsidiary, announced the purchase of DropCam, a company that sells IP cameras with cloud recording options directly to end-users. The reported price for Drop- Cam was $555 million.

What this amounts to is a half-billion dollar bet on the residential/small commercial IP camera and cloud recording market. What does Google see in our industry, and why such a large investment? The facts about Google are right in front of us: it dominates the search engine market, has a large share of the smart device operating system market with its Android system, has persuaded many people to use its email service and it continues to innovate and create new services and products. While Google wasn’t the first company to develop these technologies, it is quick to jump on a market that it believes is growing. Google’s expansion into surveillance video is another instance where it must perceive great sales opportunities.

Telephone companies and Internet service providers have already started entering the electronic security arena (Xfinity, AT&T Digital Life, etc. ), and I believe that the Google/Nest/Drop- Cam story is an example of another large company that has discovered the very low percentage of penetration of IP video into homes. For these mega-sized companies, this open market opportunity is like the falcon, circling the park downtown looking to grab a fresh pigeon on the wing. What’s important for security dealers to understand is that these large new players are not bringing new technologies to the customers, at least not yet. The cameras and service offerings of companies like DropCam are no better or different than what is available to our industry today; their only current advantage is their large marketing budgets. Smart security dealers will see the tremendous opportunity that is happening when these mega-players start to advertise cloud IP video in their market area. Vendors such as Honeywell Total Connect and Securvizion. com provide arguably better services for the customers at product and monthly cost price points that make them very competitive with the “big guys. ” Now if only I could talk the falcon into killing our city rats . . .