Off-white paper was indeed a set-up for product launch

January 24, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Right before Christmas the Maryland integrator Noventri issued a strange “off-white paper” about the sorry state of the digital signage industry and how buyers were being duped by false claims and how much of what’s being done out there is wrong and ineffective.

wrote about it then, first because it was such an odd, off-putting approach to building up business, and because it smelled like a set-up.

It was.

What disappoints me here, I wrote, is that this whole white paper is not all that cleverly angling toward a change in direction for the company in January. This is not a paper trying to advance industry knowledge. This is a paper leading readers toward an announcement of a new product that moves them down-market to a small, low-cost and limited device that probably only plays stills, or does HD video as needed.

So this weekend my Google Alerts squirted out a new press release from Noventri that, sure enough, introduces a down-market low-cost networked media player.

At $500, including software and no recurring costs, the player is spec’d to do up to 1080P video. It would be using set-top box media player components so it is not a PC and therefore will have its limitations. But I definitely think there’s room in the marketplace for something like this, and while the eco-green thing is over the top, the energy-saving aspects of the little box are impressive. (Minor point – Do people really want a fluorescent green box on the back of a display, or something dark that blends in?)

The in-your-face, “you’re being lied to” marketing approach that started with the white paper is all through Noventri’s Website now, and it takes some serious clicking around to find the earlier product line and offer that looked like scores of other companies doing the same thing. I have some admiration for people who decide not to do what everyone else does with their marketing and take a different path. These guys are certainly doing that.

But I’m not at all convinced they’re taking the right path. 

I don’t think end-users – particularly the entry-level market Noventri is after – care about the history and state of marketing spin in the industry. They want to know what it does, how easy is it to use, and how much it costs. And that’s about it.

I’m not convinced that target market has the interest or the patience to sort through a site that has copy that borders on diatribes, and screwball eco-centric navigation in an industry where the “green” factor is hardly a raging topic. All this approach does, I think, is make people think, “Hmmmmm …” 

Never met these folks. Have nothing at all against them. But they do make my head shake. 


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