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Ingram spies potential in surveillance

The giant distributor of information-technology products steps into the surveillance market, in a move to provide one-stop shopping for its resellers and customers.

Ingram Micro, a giant distributor of information technology products, has stepped into the surveillance market, in a move to provide one-stop shopping for its vendors and customers.

The company announced Monday that it will assemble various security and surveillance products from Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and other companies and offer them up as a single category to resellers and customers in specific industries, from education to retail.

"In the last two years, there has been an increased emphasis on security," said Brian Wiser, Ingram vice president. "A lot of this is the result of increased government mandates. Many of our partners are in security, and what they have told us is they want to offer a complete solution."

Ingram will not only provide a list of company products that fall in the category, it will also offer advice on which products work best given the situation, such as a wired or wireless environment, or within a retail setting. Earlier this month, the company held an educational seminar on surveillance, as well as training on specific surveillance products. Ingram will also offer customers and resellers technical support.

Industry researchers have forecast strong growth ahead for the market, but surveillance products have not been without controversy. In Britain, the country's largest supermarket chain wrapped up a field test of a system designed to monitor purchases and thefts of Gillette razors. Privacy advocates had protested the setup. And in Tampa, Fla., the police department ditched a controversial face-recognition system, noting that it had failed to aid officers in catching even one criminal.

Nevertheless, security research company J.P. Freeman & Co. estimates that network cameras are expected to account for more than half of security cameras by 2007--with worldwide revenue of $1.3 billion. Currently, network cameras account for less than 10 percent of all security cameras and generate less than $100 million in revenue globally.

"As the economy improves, we'll see capital expenditures increase in this area," said Joe Freeman, founder and president of J.P. Freeman.