Rise Vision's digital signage offer goes to the cloud

July 8, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Rise Vision/Rise Display has gone through a shuffling and rethinking over the past year, and it’s been pretty clear from chairman Byron Darlisons Twitter and blog posts that the company was taking its services into the cloud and going big-time on open architecture.

He put up a post Wednesday that talks about the beta release of this new digital signage software and it ‘s interesting to read the thinking behind it and the pricing. Rise, a lot of people in this industry will know, shook things up a couple of years ago with volume SaaS pricing offers that were substantially lower than what the the more well-known guys were quoting.

In a post aimed at the company’s resellers, he writes:

All of which begs the question, what will this new release cost? Well, I can finally tell you how this will work, and please accept my apologies for the delay in getting this to you. It has been a somewhat complicated road to this conclusion – but, I think the result is dead simple.

There is a free version that’s available to everyone but it only updates content once per day, is advertising supported and the displays are not monitored. This means if you change the content on the displays those changes will only be applied once per day and if the display goes offline you won’t be able to tell.

And then there is the premium version, which is only available from you, our Resellers. It updates every minute, the displays are monitored and you can brand it as your solution – pretty much the same way you do it now in Rise Display Network, and just like Rise Display Network, you can create networks of clients beneath your company that you can easily manage, monitor and support. And what will this cost you, our existing Resellers? Nothing for the next 3 years. Yup, you heard it right, NOTHING until September 30, 2013. This is our way of saying thanks to our existing Resellers for sticking with us through this transition.

And what happens after three years? Or what will it cost a new Reseller to sign-up once we launch? $150 per month – no commitments – cancel at anytime – and you can have unlimited clients and displays on your branded network and we provide forum and email based support to you. You make the network by adding your value to it – by including your services for content creation, procurement, deployment, training, development, advertising, network monitoring, support and maintenance, just to a name a few of the possible value points.

A little math example. If you have 100 displays with us now this costs you 100 times $15 per display per month, or $1,500 per month. If you move all of those displays from Rise Display Network to Rise Vision it costs you $0 (ZERO) per month up til September 30, 2013 and after that it costs you $150 per month for your Reseller account, nothing for the displays. And if you add another 200 displays after you move over it still costs you nothing for the next three years and after that it still only costs you $150 per month.

How are we doing this? We have managed to reduce our cost of operation to what we believe is the lowest in the industry. Our new application is an open source digital signage platform that we built on top of the Google App engine. We don’t have to procure, manage or monitor servers. We don’t have to worry about global access points. And we only pay for what we use and we can instantly ramp up service as needed because we’re sitting on top of the worlds biggest and most redundant network that has ever been created – Google. And, we concentrated on building a platform that could be extended and modified by every web developer. We didn’t build everything and the kitchen sink. We focused on creating an open source platform that you could extend and add content to you as you please and we stripped out all of the other noise. Yup, we like it. And we hope you will too.

I have no idea if the platform is any good, of course, and naysayers will by reflex say open source and low costs equals limited and only nominally supported. Again, dunno, but there are a lot of good open applications out there that have strong user bases, so my guess is that the platform will have some substance and legs.

The price points aim squarely at the entry-level and SMB market and it’s likely what’s under the hood is enough to service the needs of those kinds of networks.

It’s a very different approach from the somewhat closed systems that most of the software firms in the sector have developed and maintain. Years of being around developers suggest the merits of walled gardens and open architecture can and will be argued endlessly.

As a user, open certainly provides flexibility and means a reseller looking to, for instance, tune the offer to meet the needs of the churches could get that work done by a third-party or plug in an app, instead of waiting on the vendor.

For Rise, the question is whether they can create the sales volumes and provide supporting services to compensate for low pricing.

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