Greg Swistak, of kiosks.org fame, has written an interesting article this month about the kiosk industry reaching a "tipping point" now that all of the things that facilitate a successful kiosk deployment are readily available. (Note: the link points to his personal page, so if you're reading this some time after July 2004, it could be in a different location. Also, if you're new to the kiosk industry I recommend you take a look at our introduction to kiosks page to help get your footing).
His argument revolves around many of the principles put forth in Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," which basically states that even a tiny change in behavior, when made by a large number of people over a long amount of time, can have big consequences. Think Office Space or Superman III, where the hackers steal hundreds of thousands of dollars by collecting the tiny fractions of a penny being rounded off of the millions of computer transactions that happen each day. That summary doesn't really do the book justice (Greg's is quite a bit better), but the principle seems to make sense, and more importantly, is supported by a lot of historical data.
As I've mentioned before, the technological and cultural hurdles that have hampered deployment in both the kiosk and digital signage space in the past are largely nonexistent now. Bandwidth and connectivity are cheap. Computer hardware is a basic commodity. The public understands the benefits of self-service. Businesses understand the importance of out-of-home marketing. But Greg's point -- a good one, I might add -- is that we must not forget the economic consequences of deploying a technology product that isn't guaranteed to produce ROI (something else I've also blogged about in the past). With a growing economy, falling technology costs, and vastly improved visibility of kiosk and signage projects (google for "McDonalds" and "kiosk" or "check in kiosk," you'll see what I mean), Greg argues that the industry actually is at the tipping point. As I have something of a vested interest in seeing FireCast kiosk software and digital signage software] be successful, I certainly hope he's right...
Finally, I'd like to say a word to all of those companies who insist on making references to the Minority Report in their press releases (more here and here, amazingly enough)" To all of you, and you know who you are, please, please go see the movie. It's not happy, and it's partly digital signage's fault. So while I applaud your efforts to relate your newest hardware and/or software products to something out of popular culture, you might want to consider picking a better example
Update: Browsing across Real Digital Media's website, I came across this article from Business Week (subscription required), which goes into many of the same arguments that Greg uses above (and I pilfer from him).