Behold The Android Digital Signage Swamp

February 27, 2014 by Dave Haynes


The official Sixteen:Nine count of digital signage player and management platforms that now use low-cost Android/ARM devices is at 62, but I operate with the idea that it is damn near impossible to stay on top of all the little guys here, there and everywhere that have also got on this particular development bus.

A Google product manager telling me at DSE that companies could just load their player app in the Google Chrome store, to download and auto-launch on $179 Chromeboxes, got me wondering what was already in the Google Play Store, home to (at least) 800,000 mobile, tablet and other Android device apps.

So I looked.

You don’t get a tally of how many results match the search terms Digital Signage, but you do get one of those crazy  bottomless web pages that never stops and gives you a page 2. By my count, there are at LEAST 60 in there that are some sort of player app for putting a cycle of messages on screens.

You have to scroll down a bunch of rows before you come across one that isn’t free, and it was all of $5.

As a distribution channel, an app store is a very efficient mechanism. Pay Google $25 (I think) to be there, and forget about it because more than likely your app is “free” and you make money when users download and activate the app and need to work with the management system, which usually DOES have fees to get past base functionality.

The down side, like any apps in a mega online app store, is differentiation. How is anyone supposed to know what’s good and what’s crap. What has a real company behind development and what’s a 14-year-old in his bedroom doing a school project? How do you cut through it all?

There will be some dark art involved in getting to the top of the search rankings in the store, whether that’s links or reviews or I don’t know what. But the result is a swamp for any unfamiliar end-user, and most people going down the low-cost Android road and looking in an app store are going to be largely unfamiliar with the eco-system.



You get NoviSign, which I am loosely aware of as an Android company that I THINK is in Israel, at the top of the list. You get Signagelive, which has probably sold more software licenses than  the lower 55 of the 60 combined, way down in row I don’t know what, AFTER Sexy Football Free Puzzle and Horoscope Guru.


What all this tells me is that an app store is primarily a distribution tool and needs to be only a small part of the marketing mix. If you just build it, post it, and hope people will come, find and grab your app via Play Store, you’ll find the swamp is quiet and you can hear the crickets chirping.

With what now seems like scores of Android digital signage apps, you’ll need to leverage social media, trade publications, email and other marketing tactics to somehow develop some awareness and activity. You need to make end-users aware that it exists and celebrate its strengths, and then tell them Play Store is where you can get it.

It won’t just happen organically.

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