Intel Targets Digital Signage (Can It?)

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Speaking at last week’s Intel Channel Alliance event, in Hillsboro, Oregon, Eric Thompson, Intel director, North America channels and distribution, spoke about a new Intel strategy designed to allow channel partners fresh opportunities to grow their business in markets other than desktops, servers and notebooks.

Two of those opportunities were described as digital signage and digital surveillance and security (DSS).

Raj Maini, digital signage marketing manager for Intel outlined a potential opportunity for solution providers, talking about the projected number of installations that Intel sees coming by the year 2015 “There’s tremendous growth potential in digital signage. We’re expecting a growth rate of 26 percent annually. Right now there are about 1.5 million units installed. In 2012 we expected that number to jump to 4 million and in 2015 to hit 8 million”.

We don’t have full details on what that ‘potential opportunity’ actually is and whilst Intel always projects ‘dominance’ of some sort or other I think if everyone was completely honest Intel might admit that it still doesn’t quite know how it is going to play in this space either – even with rumours of them launching their own media players come September!

For example; How does it encourage the use of Intel processors? Will it recommend one brand of software over another? (Will it, heaven help us, launch its own?), Will it expect or push Wind River (described as ‘a world leader in embedded and mobile software’ and a company recently purchased by Intel) to play in this space and of course the million dollar question is how will it work with display / screen / panel manufacturers?

Two ‘negatives’ if you will:

  1. Wind River offers an open, extensible mobile platform based on Moblin, a Linux platform highly tuned for mobile devices. It also happens to be PERFECT for digital signage. So why are all the announcements that they seem to make Windows partnerships instead?
  2. There’s a real danger that the ‘panel’ guys will eat them alive with integrated devices in 18 months or so and Intel could easily be left on the outside looking in.

There’s no question that Intel has all the right tools to make an impact on the sector (Atom, Moblin, Brand Superiority, etc.) but we think at the moment they are failing to think and act either tactically or strategically – at the highest levels of their organisation: Digital Signage is just another ‘PC variant’.

In some of the digital signage software vendors that we most respect in the marketplace we’d bet that Intel is probably 60% of their product today, already down from 85% two years ago!

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