Rise Vision Formally Goes Free

June 26, 2012 by Dave Haynes

Rise Vision has had a freemium model in place for some time now, with a tiered offer that got you to a kind of all-you-can-eat network operator account for $150/month.

But now the Toronto-based company – which has been doing digital signage (starting with LED financial data boards) for 20 years – has gone all free for all users.

“From this point forward we just provide one service tier, for free, that allows everyone to create and brand their network, and deliver it to unlimited clients and displays,” writes founder Byron Darlison on the company blog. “There will be premium service add ons for things like financial, sports and news feeds, media storage and delivery, and other specialised applications, from us or other third parties, that we will need to charge for, but the use of these add-ons is, and will be optional, and easily replaceable with whatever service you want to create or use instead.”

How do we make money?

First, we don’t spend much. We have no administrative, sales or marketing overhead. Every person in the company directly contributes to creating and delivering our product. The web is our sales force. What we do spend is fully funded by Rise Holdings, who also owns Rise Display – a Rise Vision network operator that provides full service digital signage integration to predominantly education facilities. Yes, our sister company is a Rise Vision Network Operator, and yes, the platform works incredibly well for them, which means that together, we make more than enough money to be debt free and not beholding to venture capital or any other third-party interest.

Why give it away?

We believe that digital signage and it’s add-on mobile market is huge. The easier it is for our Network Operators to take and use our platform, and create their own unique offerings, the cheaper it is for us to deliver it. The more Network Operators that take and use our system, the more synergies that we generate together. Once started, this kind of momentum is hard to stop. Which in time creates other revenue-generating opportunities, things like a marketplace, advertising networks, premium services, and a bunch of stuff that I am sure we haven’t even thought of right now.

Rise says it has about 5,000 companies that have signed up (like any web service, there will be a percentage of dormant accounts) and the number is growing by 10 percent each month. The vast majority are small installs and the largest network (last time I asked) was about 200 units.

“Thank you for believing in an HTML-based, non-proprietary, open source solution,” Darlison adds. “In the early days there were many naysayers and I have to admit there were times when even I doubted what we were doing. But, because of you, your contribution, and your belief in our platform, we are now confident enough to say that this is working, and we can make it even better by giving it away.”

Interesting. This is not, of course, the only free offer out there. There are the LA spam kings (who don’t get linked – ever – because they have  irritated me and too many others too often) with their “freemium” Flash-based model, and then the display guys who have various bundled offers. The most robust of those is NEC’s, which started as VUKUNET but is now called NEC CMS.

There is also the open source (aka free) OpenSplash media player developed by Ayuda and guided along by several other software companies. It’s not a full system, mind you. Just the playback engine.

Naysayers will argue you get what you don’t pay for, but Rise has been around a long time. This is not a side project or garage effort, and sifting through the company blog shows a very active, ongoing development effort. The open source approach means a lot of interactive companies and solo developers working on projects that extend to screens can plug into this and use their own content management tools.

There is a long, long list of reasons why larger end-users would use for-fee systems, but for the small business, academic and non-profit sectors, the kinds of offers that Rise, NEC and others have is compelling.


Leave a comment