Does user-friendly mean anything anymore?

July 28, 2010 by Dave Haynes

I noted with some interest that a Mac-based digital signage software vendor called NextGen DS has officially announced this week that it will now be known as Media Sign Pro.

I’ve been aware of this company for two or three years but have not seen a demo or anything because the guys behind it don’t take space at the main sector trade shows, at least not that have seen.

Trying to build a business around the Mac OS was borderline odd when the company released the first version of its software two years ago. But much has changed, and quickly, and Apple is now very much a mainstream player that moves a lot of units loaded with its OS, and its aptly-named Mac Mini is a great little digital signage play-out box.

Media Sign Pro provides all the advanced capabilities of digital signage in an all-in-one solution allowing the user to create, schedule, and play their digital sign from one source. An intuitive free-floating zone interface allows for easy content creation and gives users real-time live previews without any time-consuming rendering. Real-time integrated Internet content will allow users to display news, weather information, sports scores, and more without any additional monthly service or hosting fees. Furthermore, the application runs on the world’s most energy efficient computer, the Mac mini, making Media Sign Pro one of the premier Mac based digital signage solutions in the world.

This is the part that has my head scratching – not because it’s THESE guys making the assertions, but more that MOST guys are doing it …

“Media Sign Pro was developed to be powerful and all-inclusive with the end-user in mind,” states Chris Lee, President and Co-Founder of Media Sign Pro. “It really is a game changer, as it is the most user-friendly DS application available at a price that is hard to beat.”

With some notable exceptions, damn near every platform out there is pretty user-friendly. They’re pretty much all powerful platforms, at least in some sense. They can pretty much all do real-time content. And the so-called game gets changed every morning with the latest round of press releases.

At this point, user-friendly is going to be a given in the looking-for-software filter of even nominally educated buyers. Particularly when the Mac OS is involved. It’s like leading the push by saying, “Our platform lets you schedule videos to play one after another!!!”  The big value propositions have to be things that help a company stand out from the mob.

Saying the stuff is advanced doesn’t do it. Real-time isn’t going to make people tingle. To market in such a competitive environment, the people who make the marketing calls for software companies have to ensure what they put out in PR and anything else raises eyebrows instead of triggering yawns.

Again, I don’t know these guys or the product, but I do know there’s just a handful of Mac-based platforms out there. That’s probably the schtick: THE best Mac DS system on the planet, which leverages the buzz of the hottest computing hardware company on the planet. The schtick is definitely not for this company, or anyone else at this point, that it’s user-friendly.

Sincerely, have a look at what Media Sign has going if you are looking for software. This is purely a poke in the ribs about weak market positioning. They have a lifetime software license offer for $500 a seat, which certainly makes it competitive on cost.

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