In The Beginning . . .

Last month I attended CTIA 2009, a mega-sized tradeshow and conference dedicated to the cellular and wireless industry. I’ve been attending this show since 1994, but this was the first time since becoming an executive of a digital signage company.

What struck me this year was just how similar the challenges are that face the wireless and digital signage industries. For example, both industries are struggling to find a formula for dealing with agencies/advertisers in order to capture ad revenue. Both industries are wrestling with the creation and delivery of content — particularly the kind of content that people will want to look at or perhaps even buy. Both are trying to determine how to monetize the delivery of content to their respective end-points (i.e. cell phones and digital signs). Both are working on how to quantify the response that a call to action would generate. The list of simlarities goes on and on.

I was also struck by how quickly things are changing in the wireless industry — a pace of change unlike anything I’ve seen in my 16 years in the business. It is clear that this rapid pace of wireless industry change, which by the way has been spawned by Apple, AT&T and the iPhone (I’ll talk about this in a white paper I’m writing), is sowing the seeds for new carrier business models, new handset technologies, new handset usage models and new revenue models. It is also clear that these changes are finally enabling a much talked about convergence between digital signage and mobility. This convergence will create synergies that will address the challenges outlined above. It will create new value for the cellular subscriber/signage viewer as well as new revenue for the various stake holders (e.g. digital signage solution providers, wireless carriers, content providers, advertisers, etc.) Without these new synergies, the challenges will go unaddressed and the opportunities will lie dormant — just like they have for years.

Following the CTIA show, I decided to begin writing this blog to do what I could to raise awareness to the changes enabling convergence. As I see it, this is a rising tide that will lift all boats (both for the wireless and digital signage industries) and we’ll all benefit from seeing long-standing challenges eliminated. From this point forward, I’ll be working to highlight these changes and illustrate how these changes will facilitate the convergence. I will also ask your help in identifying where the convergence is taking place and how it’s being manifest. I’m betting this will be an exciting journey for all of us. (For more background information on mobility/signage convergence, see the FAQ section on this blog.)

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