I had quick chat with Vidya Nagarajan of Google in the Intel booth at DSE. She was there answering questions about the Chrome platform and the potential use cases for digital signage. I followed up with a series of questions, via Google’s communications folks, and Vidya kindly got back to me with answers.
Here’s what the Product Manager in the Chrome for Business group has to say about the much-discussed entry of Google into the digital signage space.
Q: Can I get a breakdown of the kit of parts for applying Chromebox to digital signage, and the costs?My understanding is the device, admin console and cloud storage, but I am not sure if the admin console is $150 per unit one-time or annual, and whether the $5 cloud storage is one-time or annual. Is there anything else? And are there volume breaks, ie is the admin console $150 per at 1,000 units?
A: To setup for digital signage you would need:
- A Chrome device, such as a Chromebox, available from ASUS for as little as $179
- Access to the Chromebook management console – $150 per unit, one-time
Editor note: Since I posed these questions Google has announced cloud storage on Google Drive has been reduced to $1.99/month
Q: Is Google’s admin console intended as a stand-alone digital signage content management system or more as a device management layer?
A: The administrative console is useful for managing Chrome devices, users and group policies, centrally from the web. With the Chrome admin console, you can push out content for digital signage to a fleet of devices. The content comes in the form of a Chrome kiosk app that is built and centrally deployed.
Q: Could a digital signage app loaded on your Chrome store run without the admin console, and use its own device management and other tools?
A: Listing an app in the Chrome Web Store can be done independent of using the Chrome management console, and if you want to run one app on a per device basis, you could do this manually. But in order to deploy a digital signage app centrally to a device or multiple devices, and take advantage of fine grain settings such as rebooting devices remotely, you will need the management console.
Q: Is there a dedicated micro-site or other information on Chromebox for digital signage? All I have is the one-sheet from the trade show.
A: The one sheet is the best source of information about the digital signage use case for Chrome devices. In that document, we also link to a help center article that explains how to create a kiosk app.
Q: Are there APIs and other tools available for developers, and if so, what are they for?
A: Yes. You can follow the Chrome developer website to get up-to-date information about how these APIs can be used to build Chrome packaged kiosk apps. These apps are used to power content for displays.
Q: When will Chromeboxes ship and how can the marketplace but them, and in what countries?
A: Chromeboxes from Samsung have been shipping since 2011. The ASUS Chromebox is available for pre-order now and will be shipping this month. They are available on retailers such as Amazon.com in the U.S., with more countries around the world this year.
Q: Will there be ARM versions of Chromebox?
A: We don’t comment on future products.
Q: What has been the response from the digital signage eco-system since this was announced a couple of weeks ago?
A: We’ve gotten some good feedback from the community that this use case for Chrome devices is interesting and viable, from security, simplicity, manageability and cost perspectives.
Q: How will other services by Google integrate, notably AdSense and DoubleClick video advertising?
A: We have no plans to show Google advertising through this platform and it’s not connected to our ad network. That said it’s an open platform that developers could make a simple app if they want to bring ads as their content.
Q: Does Google see digital signage as a new area of focus or another sector in which Google can provide enabling technology, and then largely get out of the way?
A: The Chromebox is a secure, manageable and affordable platform that could power many potential use cases. Based on feedback we have heard from others in the industry, digital signage is one such use case of interest for developers. We are happy to show developers the tools to use this platform for their applications.