There continues to be a push at the high end, which we just talked about, the 4K kind of extreme performance doing really interactive and interesting things at the high end, [and] at the low end what we’re seeing is basically people wanting to do very simple signage, having a lot of reliability, and these can be anything from connected displays in retail shops [or] a simple digital menu board or just simple looping video running specials, all the way down to POP (point of purchase) displays. And that end of the market is super price sensitive.
What we observed in the market was a lot of people were going out and buying sort of Android devices that were actually consumer devices and trying to use them in commercial applications. And a lot of them came back to us and said, ‘Gosh, we really like those devices’ price points, but boy, when we rolled those out they just didn’t have the reliability; they broke and we were kind of dismayed about the performance.’
So we looked at that and said, I think there’s an opportunity for us to take a platform and really target it for the low end, and that’s what we did. We basically built the LS and took all the cost out of it that we could. We even put in a plastic case as opposed to the metal case that we usually do [but] it meets all of our stringent quality requirements so it’s certified to the same level as all of our products and works with all of our software and we’ve actually had great results from it.
It’s a great selling device already and we just brought it out in December. We’re almost sold out of it at the beginning of January because of people adopting it. A lot of it goes to, it fits in with our software so it’s like any product in our product line with the same reliability just at a lower price point. So we see that market beginning to expand.
I like to think of the digital signage market as a great big pyramid. Start out at the very peak of that pyramid with very high end software, high end PCs and it continues to go down and at the base of the pyramid is where we’re seeing the LS422 being a great product. You know, it’s simple digital signage.
A lot of them are actually being used in computer screens, you know they’ll go to a Costco and buy a screen and buy one our LS422s and all of a sudden they can network it up to a simple network account, even like Box or Dropbox and put their content up there and have it networked and updateable for under $1,000 including mounting it.
So we see that as kind of the broad mass market starting to come into digital signage. That’s what that product is targeted to, the low end price points where people get into the market and they just want to do simple things with it.
What role will the PC have going forward in digital signage?
Hastings:The digital signage market really did take off by using PCs, and in fact very high-end PCs to do the video decoding, and that’s where the market really started out and a lot of people built software on top of PCs because it was a readily available device.
But as everybody knows, [whether it’s a Mac or a Windows PC] you wouldn’t just leave it alone for six months and expect it to work. It’s going to [need updates], it’s going to want you to interact with it, and PCs were just built that way.
The other thing about PCs when they crash, they crash hard, and typically takes [an] IT person to fix it. So one of the things that BrightSign has done is basically put in the technology so you don’t end up with what we call the blue screen of death, which is kind of moniker for the screen being broken, showing error messages or just black.
So we’ve built into our device is a technology that can automatically fix itself; it repairs most problems and doesn’t get into this state where it wants [an] IT person to hand-hold it or babysit it. So that’s kind of what we’ve been doing.
The blue screen of death is a great icon because a lot of people have seen that, you walk around in an airport or something and all of sudden you see this big blue screen with some error messages, so we’ve built in technology in our players to pretty much eliminate that [because] they’re solid-state, they’re very reliable and built not to get into a state where they just lock up.
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