When I walk the DSE show floor I tend to wander up to booths for companies I knew little or nothing about, particularly if they’re doing something that gets my eyebrows up a bit.
One of those companies a couple of weeks ago was StratosMedia – which intrigued me for two reasons:
- they were among the eight companies showcased in the Google booth;
- they were there all the way from Brisbane, Australia, which is a bit of a haul AND an investment.
Company chairman Brian Hammett gave me a pretty thorough run-through of the company’s Content Management System platform, with me pushing on him to point out what set them apart from the scores of products out there doing that job. What emerged as particularly interesting, for me , was how Stratos was not a web player app that was being dropped on the Chromebox, in the same web players can be fairly readily dropped on any number of devices and operating systems,without big-time development.
The Stratos platform, Hammett explained, was built on and for Google’s own Chrome operating system. So it is all Google, all the time.
I didn’t have a lot of time to scribble notes, so I asked Hammett if he was OK taking a few questions by email after the show, and doing a Q&A.
Q: So first, can you give me a rundown on StratosMedia and the parent company CEAD?
A: CEAD is a privately-0wned group of companies, founded in 2001 in Brisbane Australia. Our primary focus is in Corporate Communication, Staff and Customer Engagement platforms and programmes for the Corporate, Tertiary, Retail & Services market.
Since 2004, we have been very active in the digital signage market in APAC. Our current client base includes the majority of the major Financial, Communication and Tertiary institutions in Australia.
In APAC, we provide a wide range of services to the DS market from software only to complete design, supply, installation, support and maintenance.
We enjoy a strong reputation for being professionally pedantic in chasing our goals to deliver quality, innovation and longevity in the systems that we provide.
In 2011, we started to create the StratosMedia platform. My partners and I shared a belief that the real future of digital signage was not just walls and displays… It has to embrace all new technologies that the market was using now and in the future and deliver that best quality user experience at all levels.
In 2015, StratosMedia Inc was created as a new entity focussing on the global commercialization of the StratosMedia product suite.
Q: How long has StratosMedia been doing digital signage, and what’s your footprint and customer profile?
A: As StratosMedia. not long. Our goal has always been to deliver a finished product, mature in features, stable that simply just works. And the best thing is that the feedback from our clients and DSE is that is exactly what StratosMedia does. We are seeing immediate sales success in the US, UK, Asia & Australia and the future is very interesting.
Q: There were eight different companies at DSE showing their software integration with Google at the company’s DSE booth, so that whole thing is immediately a crowded field. What’s different about what you do?
A: Wow, eight’s a crowd? Hate to see what you say about all the Android and Win systems ;-]
The Chrome ecosystem, Chromebox, Chrome Os (CrOs)and the Chrome Management Console provide a very secure and stable platform for digital signage, kiosk, POS systems, and other commercial applications.
StratosMedia is built on / created with the same base architecture as CrOs. We are a complete CMS, CDN, Data Store, Device & System management platform, built using all of the great tools that Google and others have created, so we fit perfectly into that ecosystem. We are not an App-based Web browser that plays on a Chromebox. We have optimized our playback to really utilize the power of rendering in Chrome.
We can deliver information and content that reflects the complex needs of the market at speeds and interactivity levels that have previously never been achieved in a cloud-based suite. In fact, we are substantially faster than many native products
- Cross Platform: We deliver all of the great features of StratosMedia across all platforms Chrome, Android, Win, OsX. We also support multiple Os’s on the same network:
- The Chrome ecosystem is flexible in that is supports everything from basic URL playback say with the Chrome Sign Builder app from Google, to the good feature set that RISE Vision has developed, through to where I believe StratosMedia is positioned at.
- Our primary market is the large scale communication market. We have created specific features, functions, attributes that address many of the pain areas like group / role policies, large scale scheduling, distribution, management, security, data flows, etc.
Q. The demo I saw in Las Vegas suggested your platform squeezes a lot of video performance out these little boxes. Without giving away the farm, how is that done?
Thank you. Yes, the performance is impressive. For example, we can do 4 simultaneous HD videos playing smoothly on a $150 Celeron Chromebox. And no, I will not say how. What I can say is Why.
The digital communication market globally is very mature. The end customer has strong expectations of the quality of the information that they expect to see and interact with, our customers are demanding better systems and in the same space there are strong pressures to reduce the cost of competent communication systems.
Great video performance is very important to us and is a key focus in our dev team. We did not want to be restricted by HTML5 and were not interested in being just another CMS. Just because the price points of the systems is dropping should not mean that as an industry we compromise on quality. The days of just playing a Single movie or Jpeg with a jagging ticker at the bottom should be left in the 90’s.
Q. What’s your commercial offer, like SaaS or self-hosted, and how do you sell this – direct or through partners?
A: We are a true SaaS model. We have established relationships with key Distributors /VAR’s/ Si’s in the US, EMEA, Asia and APAC regions and always happy to work with other companies that value our industry. We do not offer a self hosted version.
Q. I think it’s fair to say StratosMedia is largely unknown in a crazily crowded CMS field. How do you cut through in North America and EMEA?
A: Lots of hard work, good attitude, being professionally persistent, consistently innovating and importantly supporting our network of Partners, Distributors and Resellers
Q. What’s coming that you can talk about?
A: The roadmap for the next 6 months is intense with many features moving from Beta to Live: So I cannot say too much at this point
A key feature, one that we did a soft-launch on at the show, is the Video Wall App for Multi CPU Walls, with lots of smarts built around how to increase the performance of low-cost devices. This generated lots of positive comments from the people that play in that space.
I have heard from multiple companies that are playing with the Chromeboxes that running Chrome really gets a lot out of nominal boxes. One guy called the performance off the charts efficient and said he was stunned by what he could get a that would be a dog running graphics in Window to do with Chrome.
My world headquarters and live bait shop would not make much of a lab, but I think I need to get me a Chromebox to have a look.