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5/13/2009 11:51 AM
 

I attended Kioskcom/Digital Signage Show in Las Vegas last week (May 6-7), and it was noticeable the moment I stepped onto the show floor: last year, at that same show, the “Kioskcom” vendors dominated, and there was a small “digital signage pavilion” off to the side. But this year, there was no real distinction between  the “kiosk” show and the “digital signage” part, not just in terms of the floor, but I’m referring to the fact that all the “kiosk” or “self-service” vendors were touting that they were “digital signage” providers.
So in other words, as digital signage continues to be a hot market (the last frontier of AV, so to speak), now “self-service” vendors are jumping on the bandwagon. And this follows another trend: screens getting smaller in stores– a move in some quarters away from large flat panels toward small screens at shelf level, on the shelf, in the shopping cart–and ultimately this trend ends with the screen in your pocket, your cell phone.
OK, that’s a lot of trends, so let’s get back to the Kioskcom/Digital Signage Show in Las Vegas last week.  Of course, almost every technology trade show these days claims to be at the heart of the digital signage boom. The technology to power digital signage is coming from: the traditional AV world (flat panels, switching/routing); the IT world (routing content around “campuses” corporate, educational, and now retail); the broadcast world (NAB, where most of the digital signage content management software providers originally came from); retail (where traditional POP, or point-of-purchase, providers, and brands and retailers are anxious to target the customer in-store); and Advertising (where there is one huge pile of money looking for a new home as consumers migrate away from TV and print).
So, how is the Kioskcom camp, special? Are they just one more camp trying to cash in on a trend? Well, it could be more than that. The kiosk industry is really part of the “self-service” industry. And it could be, going forward, that because this camp is already established in-store (and in other public spaces like airports, train stations, etc), they could use their beachhead to further the industry in ways that the new kids on the block can not. I’ve written extensively on the politics of the public space–especially retail– where the main obstacles to adoption of digital signage have nothing to do with technology but everything to do with the various stakeholders fighting for control of the turf.
I think that to date, all those “self-service” kiosks in-store, for example, have been perceived as a clunky, non-sexy technology–necessary, but not providing the kind of sexy “screen” or Media placement that many chase after.
We should probably rethink this. What is going to propel the industry to a new level is interactive digital signage…. Whether with the cell phone in the equation, with shopper recognition (so the retailer knows when you enter the store, and what your goals are), or more.
Just pushing content out, one-way to stores, is a start, but it’s not going to shake up the market. Interactive will, and kiosk/self-service providers are in the ballpark, and have been for some time.

 
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