Last week, Ken Goldberg of Real Digital Media posted the following tweet: “So much for digital signage for wayfinding in grocery.” Included in the tweet was a link to an article that described a new mobile application being tested by the Meijer’s grocery store chain in Michigan that allows smartphone-equipped shoppers to find more than 100,000 in-store items and services. I responded to Ken’s tweet with the following statement: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
What did my response mean? It meant that innovation in the wireless industry is moving so fast that it will soon affect nearly every corner of the digital signage industry – not just wayfinding. In fact, in the last week alone there were five other announcements that will directly or indirectly impact the digital signage industry in the coming months/years:
- Simon malls announced that they were supporting Shopkick, a mobile shopping app
- Facebook announced “Places”, a geo-location service for Facebook subscribers
- Foursquare announced that they had reached their 3 millionth subscriber
- Research 2 Guidance announced that 3.9 billion smartphone apps were downloaded in the first six months of 2010 (3.1 billion were downloaded in all of 2009)
- Nielsen predicted that Smartphone penetration would exceed that of feature phones by the end of 2011 — two years ahead of the date set in prior forecasts.
As I pointed out in my last white paper, life is all about balancing scarce resources. Rational people and companies put their money where they feel that they’ll get the greatest return. Let’s face it, money flows where the action is and the action is certainly in mobility.
Here’s an interesting data point that I think illustrates the law of scarce resources in action: Last March’s wireless conference and tradeshow sponsored by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA2010) hosted over 39,000 attendees. 21% of those attendees were from the retail industry. Some quick math reveals that over 8,000 retailers traveled to Vegas to investigate how mobile and wireless innovations will impact their industry. If I’m not mistaken, this means that just the number of retailers who attended CTIA was greater than the total attendance of several of the largest “digital signage only” trade shows combined.
So, what’s the point? Two things:
- The digital signage industry needs to go where the action is, e.g. CTIA
- The digital signage industry needs to integrate mobile or run the risk of being dis-intermediated
For some time now, I’ve been working with CTIA and the Digital Screenmedia Association to facilitate collaboration between the two organizations. We will be releasing more information on this collaboration in the coming days/weeks, but suffice it to say that things are looking very interesting.
BTW, stay tuned to more information on my upcoming webinar (Sept 21st) on mobile/signage convergence. It should give interested parties a perspective on why and how mobile can be integrated into signage.