It's free!!! Well, sorta, well, OK, not really …

February 5, 2009 by Dave Haynes

There seems to be some sort of crazy race on right now to take press releases and slap them into online trade publications and portals as quickly as possible — never mind what they say.

It is awfully tempting to just send out something official looking about Sixteen:Nine Media Corp. signing a deal to install a network across some non-existent fast food chain. My guess is it would get a fair amount of play before somebody stopped long enough to do a little basic due diligence.

Consider the case today with a company that issued a press release touting its FREE! software.

MediaSignage Inc. has announced the 1.0 beta release of its free digital signage software solution, powered by Adobe AIR and Adobe Flex. This release adds to the company’s current offering of digital signage software as a service (SaaS) and includes over 50 new features and enhancements. 

Well, scratch around on the company’s site for a few seconds and you determine pretty quickly that it’s not really free – unless your network is never going beyond a single player.

The company’s website even has “Prices” in its navigation header. And those prices are certainly on the low side of the norm these days for software as a service. But free it is not if you actually run a “network” of players and screens.

I don’t know the company, and the software may well be spectacular for all I know. But this bait and switch thing is a little silly, and while it may attract a pile of small business people who don’t want to pay for a solution, I can see a lot of other, more serious prospects just being irritated.

MediaSignage is among a handful of companies offering their platform for free-ish, and looking to upsell through adding more units or providing more functionality, storage and so on.

Disclaimer: These guys are in a distant way a competitor, I suppose, as I sell software that isn’t free.  


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