Kioskcom/Digital Signage Show wraps up

Compared to my visit here in February, this Las Vegas trip has been remarkably well-behaved – punching out one night before 11 pm (major record) and keeping over-indulging to a minimum.

Despite that I have not had the time or energy to crank out posts. I did the “What? Huh?” thing when somebody mentioned Europe’s skies were filled with volcanic ash. Life in a trade show bubble. Best I could do was a couple of tweets from the blogger lounge Wednesday before running off.

So, back in my room resting my back and legs, as the Kioskcom/Digital Signage Show/CETWorld show tears down, here’s my post-show review.

Nowhere near the foot traffic of DSE, but anybody I asked said they were much happier having 10 solid chats than 100 with people who were either kicking tires or doing open or sneaky competitive intel … or selling their pots and pans. Lawrence Dvorchik, who manages the show, has been drilling into me for 2-3 years that his crowds are smaller, but more qualified, and ready to do real business. I was skeptical for a long time, but now buying into it, having been to two of these events.

The DS software/services guys who were here – maybe 20-25 guys depending on who and what you count – stood out a lot more than is possible when there are scores to sort through at DSE.

The sessions and panels were on the floor or very nearby, not miles away down some corridor.

The Mandalay Bay convention center is an infinitely nicer place than the LVCC. Infinitely.

The organizers do a great job of taking care of the vendors and show-goers. There was an open bar on the floor later on the afternoon of set-up day. There was available coffee on the show floor. The lunch laid out for people was a pretty sumptuous buffet. They had bubbly out at show closing and piles of Dove ice cream bars. The DailyDOOH blogger lounger and social media zones were great and focal points, not after-thoughts. And so on.

DSE does not do a bad job, at all, and is very polished and professional. But this event has a way friendlier feel. Joel Davis – the JD is JD Events, was running around in work clothes doing anything needed to keep things smooth. He was directing foot traffic to the NEC party.

That party was well done, very busy and I assume very expensive and drew piles of people for good food and cocktails, all to promote Vukunet. There is a still lots of worked needed, though, to get people understanding what is a complicated offer. I had a few people flat ask me, “So … what’s Vukunet???”

What is still a bit of a disconnect with the event is the shotgun marriage of the DS and kiosk crowds. I get why they are blended, but it still feels odd walking past piles of people selling things like thermal printers and coin and credit card handling thingdoodles. Then again, I suppose every show has sections that are foreign to people with specific interests. The gadget guys probably look at the media-centric stuff on the DS side with equal mystery.

What I saw that intrigued me …

Nanonation’s iPad app for a furniture store was more than a sizzle-based show gimmick. It was an early but pretty nice effort showing how a furniture store could use it to help sell sofas and chests. More on that later.

Starmount’s mobile app that integrates with its QSR-angled software was nice. Again, more later…

Jason Cremins of Signage Live is doing a lot of nice work to leverage emerging Web technologies and hardware devices. He gets the open architecture, non-proprietary thing like few seem to. His firm is UK-based, but Canada/US guys, he’s coming this way.

I saw Texas Digital for the first time. Knew nothing about them, but they have been around for almost 40 years. No time for demos, but they knew their stuff. And they seem to be one of few guys who can legitimately use the term turnkey.

DC Media from South Africa continues to develop what looks like a really nice platform, which gets sold through The Digital Signage Group.

The eCast product is really, really nice. I have seen it before, and it gets better each time.

I ran into a company called Teranova that I thought was really interesting. They have built a business sorting out ALL the time-consuming, frustrating, technical sourcing, negotiating and execution crap associated with doing kiosk and DS networks with 3G wireless. They have that part worked out. Ask anyone who has tried to find the right business unit and people to get something started and finished with a carrier, and they’ll roll their eyes and use colorful language.

Netkey had a big presence through NCR. They appear serious about the space. Harris had a small presence at the show, but I went to the NAB show on Tuesday and Harris had a cast of 1,000s. I knew it was a big company, but not THAT big. Huge. As big a presence as Sony and other big boys.

Re NAB, it’s a broadcast show, entirely. Not really a DS show in any way, though Tightrope was there showing its stuff along with a broadcast-centered product I didn’t know they were into. Met the founder. Sharp guy.

Important reminder to software companies with proprietary platforms. Along with kiosk guys who have apps that are very close to DS platforms, there were several companies at NAB that have IPTV platforms that do pretty much anything many DS platforms can do, but can also service set-top boxes and mobile. Convergence continues and anybody who thinks DS is its own animal and unaffected needs to take off the blinders.

Lots of other companies I could mention, but I was too busy with meetings, yakking away with people and generally running around to see as much as I should have … once again.

One other thing – David Drain on the Digital Signage Association changing to the Digital Screenmedia Association: reaction very positive. My honest reaction: not all that fussed one way or other, but digital signage is going to be an antique term at sometime soon-ish, and broadening the handle to screens is probably better. In the end I care a lot more about why I should join and be active, no matter the name.

For me and my Preset fellers, a very worthwhile few days. But happy to be heading home … after a last evening here with some ne’er do wells. So much for good behavior.

Nominal disclaimer – some clients in my mentions … can’t say who, but there’s some I saw this week who aren’t mentioned here, so forget some idea these are obligatory mentions.