TrendConsumer security market grows

Published 7 January 2008

The fastest growing segment within the $155 billion consumer electronics industry is consumer security; heightened worries about terrorism, natural disasters, and sophisticated criminals drive this growth, and the growth, in turn, leads many government- and corporate-security companies to consider entering this market

Security is good business at the governmental level, and it is good business at the consumer level. In evidence: Just look at some of the offerings at the mammoth annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES), which opens today in Las Vegas. It is clear that companies now believe that heightened awareness of threats and risks, from terrorist attack to natural disasters to fear of ever-more-sophisticated criminals, makes the consumer security market a lucrative one. San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jonathan Sidener writes that thousands of new products and prototypes will debut at CES, and that this year’s expo will see more security products, such as the Fire-Safe from Rochester, New York-based SentrySafe — a heat and water-resistant safe containing an external hard drive and room for paper records and CD or DVD data, and the PocketFinder from Anaheim, California-based PocketFinder — a water-proof, shock resistant tracking device which can be clipped onto a child’s coat or a pet’s collar. PocketFinder products also can be placed in a car to alert parents if a young driver is going faster than 65 mph.

Now, it remains to be seen whether worries about the weather — wildfires in California, floods in the Midwest — will lead consumers to purchase high-tech protection, but when the annual CES opens today, there will be markedly more security products among the usual displays of high-definition TVs and wireless routers. The four-day trade show for the $155 billion consumer electronics industry expects 140,000 attendees and 2,700 electronics manufacturers. Thousands of products and prototypes debut at the show each year. A few, such as HDTV, become blockbusters. Some enjoy moderate success. We note that the growing consumer security market is now drawing draws companies which until now have had little or no interest in the consumer market. Take a company we have written about often — Oregon-based thermal imaging specialist FLIR Systems. The company, a military and corporate security company, will be at the expo to prove that night-vision technology, developed for the military and law enforcement, is also applicable to homeowners. The cameras FLIR will be displaying have dropped into the $2,500 range. “Three years ago, these were $15,000 cameras that we sold to airports and other facilities with special security needs,” said FLIR spokesman Bill Klink. Lately, he said, the company has been looking for new markets, initially targeting smaller businesses such