I remember back in the 90s when I was given 2MB of free online storage space with my Hotmail account – it was revolutionary! However things have moved on quite a bit since then, for example I now have a massive 50GB free with Box.com, and in an interview with Business Insider the CEO Aaron Levie discussed the “race to zero” concept, which indicates this trend is set to go in only one direction.
Other leading companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google and Dropbox all offer free cloud storage in some form, so why do cloud video camera companies still insist on charging? As customers we don’t like to pay for something that is widely available for free, especially if it’s functionality we really need and only realise we have to pay for when we open the box! I believe that despite free storage becoming the norm, cloud video monitoring companies insist of charging for 2 main reasons:
1) It’s what shareholders want to see.
I totally understand the business case for having customers pay a monthly fee each month. It’s a very attractive pricing model and shareholders love it. I have had many conversations with our investors about why we don’t charge for storage, especially as companies like Dropcam appear to have proven the model, however I strongly believe video storage is a basic product requirement should be included within the cost of the product. Remote video technology is valuable and has been proven to change the lives of customers, so we want to see it in as many homes as possible. We want to remove all barriers to entry, and our experience talking to customers is that ongoing monthly fees area big turn off. Of course it’s reasonable to charge for additional features and services that customers can choose to subscribe to, however the point is that’s up to them, and they should only pay for it if they see sufficient value.
2) They lose money if they don’t charge
When we started building the HomeMonitor cloud platform back in 2011, we set out knowing we were going to offer cloud storage for free. So the development challenge was to make sure the platform was both bandwidth and cost efficient from the start, otherwise the economics wouldn’t work and we’d lose money! Thankfully through some innovative technology like SmartBuffer and on-demand recording, we were able to ensure all motion video clips were recorded in full without having to stream 24/7 and use excessing internet bandwidth. The end result means we can afford to give the last 7 days of video storage for free, so we chose to do it!
I’m proud to say we were the first and still are the only cloud video provider to offer 7 days of secure storage for free. We have proven it’s possible, so let’s see if anyone joins us.