The kiosk app myth: "A kiosk is the same as a digital sign"
This claim was made, not surprisingly, by someone who sells kiosks and kiosk equipment. And at a certain level, I can't blame him. Over two decades, the "K" word has become associated with boxy podiums running crash-prone software and kludgy user interfaces that frequently hinder rather than help the end user. I'm sure it's not a stretch to say there have been more botched kiosk projects than successful ones. And while that may be true for digital signage projects as well, there's enough positive spin associated with digital signage to stifle the typical worries about cost, complexity and ROI. Consequently, we find our little industry's ugly older sister trying to glom on to some of our... um... appeal.
Image credit: Andrew King on Flickr
Bottom line: unless you know that your kiosk project can use an off-the-shelf application that you've worked with before, the typical kiosk will have a longer lead time and be more difficult to deploy than the typical digital sign. There may be exceptions, but I'd consider this the rule.
The digital signage business model myth: "You'll be able to sell advertising"
On the heels of the guy pitching kiosks as digital signs was a reputable screen vendor proclaiming the myriad benefits of selling digital signage solutions, not the least of which (according to him) was the ability of the AV dealer to make some extra money by selling ads onto the screens he's installing. After all, why get paid just once for installation when you can build up a recurring revenue stream, too? Well, I can give you a bunch of reasons why not. In fact, I did that just a few months ago when I looked at why people are so enamored with ad-driven digital signage networks. But suffice it to say, 99.999% of AV dealers are never going to be able to sell a single ad. It's just that simple. And unless these AV dealers want to dramatically change their existing business models and hire a professional sales staff, they will never make money with digital signage advertising.
In fact, when NEC originally came out with VUKUNET and touted the creation of a secondary revenue stream as one of their main drivers for picking up resellers, many in the community pointed out how ridiculous that was, and most of us wondered if NEC was being intentionally misleading. However, I just saw LG announce a similar SaaS-based product yesterday, making many of the same claims. Thus, I have to wonder if these big screen makers simply don't get it.
Overall, it seems like our industry is finally getting its act together. While there's still plenty of hype out there, we've witnessed a lot of real news, big wins and major business and technical advances that give me the impression of a more mature, responsible marketplace. But clearly our work is not done yet. Whether intentional or not, the careless rhetoric above probably confused or misled a lot of people at this one small show. And there are many other shows just like it, serving a community of thousands of potential VARs and resellers, all of whom might now be indoctrinated with an incorrect set of beliefs. Our industry's nonprofit organizations should probably start thinking about this sooner rather than later. We're on the precipice of a massive wave of adoption, and except for industry insiders (who are presumably already somewhat educated), nobody knows that folks like POPAI, DSA and DSF even exist. That needs to change if we're going to have any hope of arming people with the right information before they dive head first into digital signage.
Have you heard any other myths about kiosk applications or digital signage business models? Where did these misconceptions arise from? Leave a comment and let us know.