Early January we started preparation for our Top 10 Ten Digital Signage Vendors for 2009 with a post ‘Digital Signage Vendors, The A to Z Of… ‘ BUT now it’s time, with only a few weeks to go before we reveal our 2009 Top Ten to start whittling that list down.
We have received countless emails about this; just remember it’s our opinion and it’s based on what we see with retailers and media owners in the market place. We are also looking for folks who play GLOBALLY and so you will see as we list below, some (but not all) of those that did NOT make it, that being a country specific vendor does not get you into Round 2
Without further ado here’s our take on those who did NOT make it…
- Acquire Digital Multimedia. The big account was always i-vu  and they also have the Carrefour network in Greece  which we quite like and despite the imminent opening of a US office we don’t think they are global enough just yet. Maybe one to watch but it may depend on what really happens with the i-vu network going forward and if they can get any good business in the US quickly.
- Adflow Networks. We love what these folks are doing and we listed them as one of our Ten Companies To Watch In 2009  – they have a great SaaS platform, good cost model, nice small form factor players, smart management folks and engineers but are still basically Canadian and North American. These guys have something really good and they need to get it out of the country!!!
- Admiradn Digital Networks. This Spanish provider has been going only a few years (started 2007 we believe) but has made some nice inroads with good quality networks in the Iberia peninsula . We like what they offer but they need to win some big business outside of Spain as soon as they can. No where near being global yet.
- Carlipa Group. Doing better than expected now that Mike Fabian has left them. Well known for some great luxury retailer installations (and global too) they have recently done well elsewhere in retail, especially in the UK (we loved the totems they put in Debenhams stores ) but we can’t quite shake the notion that they are through and through a French company that doesn’t quite (a) get what they are, (b) what they sell and (c) has figured out globally how it will be branded (and that’s despite having the business Brandcorp as part of their empire!!!). They are backed by some smart VCs who need to shake their board up and give them a decent strategy.
- Cisco DMS. Last year’s joint number 1 and so that makes them this year’s biggest faller by far! They don’t get digital signage and they most definitely don’t get digital out of home. Outside of universities and education they have won scant else even in industry sectors like banking where you would expect them to clean up. In the US they have been head to head with STRATACACHE in every deal  that STRATACACHE have, errr won AND in APAC it looks like it’s head to head with EnQii and we know who won PDM in Australia don’t we?  Last year we thought they were the ones to watch – figuring out that they would have spent a great deal of their time in getting their impressive VAR channel up to speed with our world. A big disappointment BUT probably a blessed relief to all the other vendors out there who were quaking in their boots when they made their grand entrance.
- CoolSign. One to watch going forward that’s for sure  but they need to re-establish that they have managed to keep a credible VAR channel and start winning new business now that they are back to being a standalone business. The new investors have a lot of work to do but we have high hopes for the NEW business. By the way, Lou Giacalone, CTO of Titan confirmed to us earlier this week that they are more than happy with CoolSign
- Digital Video Systems Ltd. The rugged system we have recommended to folks on a number of occasions who wanted to put screens on buses  and a company with a few food retail customers ALAS what we actually have is an English company that expects its customers to find them and one that thinks keeping its head down will win it a Queen’s Award For Export. Not so, which is a shame !!!
- Dise. Swedish provider’s Dise Digital Suite has been seen by us in a few weird and wonderful installs, including Isbank in Turkey  and a couple of installs for JCDecaux. Whilst they are playing abroad we have seen little of them nearer home and again like so many others way too quiet on the marketing front to be considered one of the big boys just yet.
- dZine. This Belgian digital signage provider claims 100,000’s installs (impressive huh) but they all seem to be hidden away in hotel rooms and airports. Undoubtedly somehow they are global with deployments in incredibly far away places but we haven’t seen the industry rush to their door every time their is a big RFP (Shell locally in BeNeLux not withstanding). Could have been a contender but were borderline in our opinion.
- LiteLogic. These guys need to spend more time telling the world about their software offering cos’ when first asked everyone assumes they make and sell (albeit innovative spinning) LEDs and little else. They have some great business with Titan in the US and CBS Outdoor in the UK but need to start making the right noises in the software space.
- MultiQ. An also ran who almost made it into our list last year  AND one of the Scandinavian companies we tipped for possible greatness in 2008. Alas, although we like their integrated screen product and the fact that they have a whole rosta of brand name retailers we have already had to class them as NOT HOT  – poor marketing and little visibility letting them down AND to boot are they really just another screen hardware manufacturer who simply doesn’t get software?
- Net Display Systems PADS Professional. A well established and well funded Dutch provider  (they have been around since 1994) that really should be up in the top tier of our providers knowing their skills and heritage and the pace and innovation of the Netherlands marketplace that they grew up in. Again however you are more likely to see them hidden away in an airport or a corporate building (they do a lot of business in the corporate environment) than competing for the crown jewels of installs around the world. Mind you, their recent Mosque win in the UAE is a ‘biggy’ but they definitely haven’t shouted about that enough either – it may be 350 licenses now but they sold 5,000 and took the business away from Scala. These could be one to watch going forward.
- Pixman / PixNet. Newly merged entity Pixman / PixNet  could be one to watch next year but it’s probably too early days just yet EVEN with the deep pockets the getting together of the two companies brings them. With their Pixman hat on they understand brands, media buyers and ad agencies and if they can bring that to the table they could be laughing. To date Pixnet have a nice mix of corporate signage installs (mainly in Canada), some in retail and a few advertising networks (including a nice ATM deal in Canada) but their software offering is still bare bones with little USP to excite the market just yet.
- Real Digital Media. NEOCAST  is incredibly well thought of but these guys don’t seem to have made much headway outside the US. We are expecting some big announcements from them soon where they will show our Top 10 a thing or two in the US but hey!, they are all in the US AND you need to be a global player to get to the next round
- ScreenRed. Number 6 in last year’s Top Ten . What have they been up to? This off-shoot from John Ryan  has no discernible installs anywhere, let alone in the retail banking sector that is their parent company’s specialty. It’s a real shame as the technology was one of the better Windows products and one of the first with a good web interface.
- YCD Multimedia. Number 5 in last year’s Top Ten  but despite building an impressive and formidable management team in New York what have these guys actually done? One of the reasons why they were high up the list last time around was there music capability (a nice USP and something few, if any of the others had) and we think they are making a big mistake in downplaying this piece of their puzzle. Their CEO, Barry Salzman has made no secret of his desire to get their business model right in the US before doing anything big elsewhere but this has seen them seemingly go backwards and not forwards. They are probably less global than they were a year before.
- Zirius (Sony). They seem to win business solely based on their screens and other products at the moment BUT if Sony get OLED right and improve their software, errr like 100% improve the software, they could get bigger slices of the pie going forward. We think it is a long shot that any Japanese hardware manufacture will produce good software so Sony will be back to winning business on the back of other better products.
- 3M. Having lost Telstra / PDM , their only really big account outside the US and outside the education sector, how long will they actually stay in the software signage business do you think? We said before that with the brand, reputation and customers they had – even with an only-average product they had every chance to do incredibly well. Unfortunately they didn’t and it’s likely they won’t. Such a waste of a corporate address book!! Mind you we love what their Vikuiti film can do!!! .
- 42mediagroup. These German folks have done wonders with the installs that they have been involved with – including McDonalds and Deutsche Post  but like many vendors they do no sales and marketing, wouldn’t know what a brand was if it hit them on the backside and seem incapable of getting any business outside Germany. A real shame as they do actually have something to offer the industry.
Suffice to say that our 2009 Top Ten has a new number 1 AND a couple of new entrants.
If all goes to plan then we will announce the 2009 Top Ten at the ISE DOOH Business Conference in Amsterdam on 2nd February, when we present our “Overview about content management systems and other important technologies for DOOH“