(Axon is the name of its younger Seattle-based technology division; the Taser name will survive as the weapons brand.)Already, Axon says its cameras have been deployed in 36 out of 69 major U. cities, and that police have collectively stored more than seven petabytes of data on Evidence.com, its cloud-based video storage and management service, with 90 videos uploaded every minute.The “free trial” program—an idea more common to consumer services like Spotify and Netflix than government procurement—aims to give officers across the country year-long access to an Axon Body 2 camera; specialized training; and a storage subscription on
After two recent failed bids, in New York and Phoenix, the company was accused of unfairly trying to influence those police departments with offers of “free” cameras.
Vievu, a smaller competitor owned by the police supplier Safariland, said in a statement that the free camera effort was a publicity stunt that “is at best unethical and at worst illegal.” Along with the heavy internal expense of using cameras, the company warned of lock-in: that using Axon’s software for a year will effectively force police to commit to its services for the longterm, “or face exorbitant switching costs.”John Collins, a Vievu spokesperson, said the offer is “analogous to asking someone to get a free tattoo on his or her face—you’d better be sure you want it because it is very difficult to get rid of it once you do.”Smith has dismissed some of the allegations against Axon as “a little bit of noise that comes with being a market leader,” but says that to avoid conflicts, it will not offer free cameras to law enforcement agencies with whom it’s already pursuing business.
“We’ve seen the need to do this” for a few years, says Smith.
Since Ferguson incited new public demand for more trust and transparency in policing, Taser has become the leader in police body camera sales.
Motorola, Panasonic, and Vievu, are, along with smaller makers like Digital Ally and Utility, angling for part of what is estimated to be a $1 billion market.