Today's whopper, brought to you by the CEO of Scala

May 1, 2010 by Dave Haynes

And I quote:

“No one today has a digital signage offering for small business owners to deploy and manage themselves. SignChannel is the first,” said Gerard Bucas, Chief Executive Officer, Scala“By leveraging low-cost media players such as wireless photo frames and  Scala’s template capability, a small to medium business owner can easily set up their own digital signage network, create compelling content and manage their playlists through a simple Web interface. Coupled with SignChannel’s built-in media content, it is so innovative that we feel it truly presents a new paradigm in our industry”.

Really? Really???

First of all, it is now against the press release law to use “paradigm” unless you are trying to be funny.

Second, any time you boldly pronounce you are the first to do something, you really should be the first. Or even first-ish.

There is no shortage of entry-level, digital signage, starter package, easy as 1-2-3 products and services out there. Gill Berba at SpringWire has one.  It could be argued there is a glut. Some you buy through resellers, true. Others you buy direct.

Then there are products like SignageLive that has integrated with SignChannel (as has CoolSign and BrightSign, which is interesting now) and has far more capabilities across far more types of devices than SignChannel. There are other companies like ScreenScape that also do dead-simple, turn it on, log in here, off-she-goes digital signage.

So this is pretty much a flat-out whopper.

On the positive side, as Mr. DailyDOOH suggests, it is not a bad move. The SignChannel thing gives Scala a very entry-level product that address the bottom of the market with people who just want to have basic stuff show up on a screen and not really think about it.

The problem is that there is next to no money in the entry level marketplace, and as new operating systems bubble up that don’t need to be on PCs and things like SMIL, Media RSS and HTML5 get more usage, this level of digital signage will be totally commoditized and hard to assign any real dollar value to. Figuring out how to make a digital picture frame into a digital signage playback engine was interesting two-three years ago, but software and hardware capabilities have come up enormously since then.

You can get a very powerful little playback device capable of far more than driving jpegs to a screen for very little money now.

So, interesting acquisition, but about a 1.2 seismic reading in the industry. Maybe there’s underlying technology capable of much more, but on the surface it’s a big shrug of a deal. Thinking Screen Media sold off its software/distribution arm for $2 million, money it is using to go after the expected marketplace for content tuned to the iPad.

Reports TechCrunch (thanks Adrian for finding):

Thinking Screen Media, formerly Frame Media, has raised $2 million in funding from Scala. This brings Thinking Screen Media’s total funding to $7 million. The startup provides a platform for delivering content to to digital frames and other screen devices wirelessly. As part of the deal, Scala has acquired the digital signage division of Thinking Screen Media, the SignChannel platform.

Thinking Screen Media’s FrameChannel platform allows screen owners to select, program and deliver personalized content to a variety of consumer devices, selecting from a library of over 1000 content widgets. The library includes integrations with leading photosharing and social networking sites along with news, weather, sports scores, stock quotes and hyper local content. FrameChannel is available today on devices from over 20 consumer electronics providers including Tivo, Roku, Samsung, Sony, Philips, Motorola, Kodak, Toshiba, Viewsonic and Apple.

The funding will be used to develop Thinking Screen Media’s offering on the iPad. The startup launched a FrameChannel iPad app a few weeks ago …

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