If there’s any need for a webcam, it is now. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the world, people have to change most of their habits while staying indoors. Most are working and studying attending meetings, online conference and lectures from a makeshift office in their homes. Naturally, the use of webcam will increase exponentially. While laptops are equipped with built-in cameras, low resolution and bad low-light performance encourage people to upgrade.
Price gouging menace
It is observed that some are hoarding any available units, creating scarcity and immediately selling them at a higher price in Amazon resellers’ market, Craig’s List and eBay. This practice was similarly seen been done in the United States for toilet paper and hand sanitizers, even some medicines. Price gouging is a menace usually, but during these times, it is a predatory practice. We’ve seen reports and public outraged covered such hoarders for essential items. However, webcams are non-essential items. It is too early to say what retailers and lawmakers will do about it. For now, we’ll look at the stats and solutions.
The State of Webcams
For webcams, Logitech is the dominant player. While this may seem like a very small market through an enthusiast’s POV, it is quite the opposite. The userbase is a combination of VoIP users to streamers in Twitch, Youtube, DLive, Facebook and adult entertainment websites. At the time of writing, there are 104,425 active livestreamers with a total of 2,211,353 live viewers in Twitch alone. Apart from off-brand webcams, Razer Kiyo is the only active competitor. Streamers also use Elgato Cam Link capture dongles and typically pair it up with Sony Mirrorless cameras for the best video quality.
Webcam price stats
Two of the notable webcams Logitech is well known for, the C920 and the C922x Pro. There are many variants such as the wide-angled C930e and even the ‘Pro Stream’ camera. Logitech C920 is a widely recognised and purchased, with the C922x Pro (and its sub-variant the C922 Pro) providing an upgrade for a bit better quality and low light performance. These webcams have been in the market for many years but we’ll stick with the six-month price trends.
At the time when Amazon had stocks from its partners, the webcam was sold for $64.40. The prices of used and third party seller items started to increase shortly The C920 is sold for as high as US$ 224.47 while the ‘used’ is sold for $199.99. The C922x Pro is sold for $299.99 while the used variant is now sold for $239.98. The best solution for those who want to buy a Logitech webcam now is best from its own site.
In-house retailer situation
For those who need to buy Logitech webcams now, the only place that’s selling them at a reasonable price is from its website. The company is selling Pro StreamCam (in-house exclusive) for 169.99$ with 30$ shipping cost. It is uncertain if Logitech will ship these during these times. But its been told that some states in the United States allow stores to open. The Logitech C920 and C922 are out of stock.
In times like these, it is best to stay indoors with an exception to essential supplies. The best solution is to use your mobile phone’s rear-facing camera as a webcam. While most use front-facing camera during video chatting/ conferencing via a mobile phone, the rear-facing cameras always produce much better video quality. autofocus and low-light performance. For Android users, there are apps such as #LiveDroid apps which works by installing its respective software on the phone and your PC which then you use the PC to the phone’s webcam. All you need is a good way to balance the phone if you dont have a mobile phone tripod.
A chance of class-action lawsuit post lockdown
It is uncertain if anyone can investigate price gouging for webcams and any electronics (including Nintendo Switch). But in due time, somebody will- either accuse Amazon or have Amazon run an investigation. In any case, Amazon could have taken the initiative and apply a one-unit-per-customer policy as soon as lockdown procedures were initiated. Unlike in Amazon India where they can only supply essential items such as groceries, Amazon in the United States do supply non-essential items with higher priority given to essential items. This itself is controversial in the USA where US senators demanded a response from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) April 14, 2020