Google has been on a acquisition rage lately, nabbing up everything from home automation technologies to running robots. How they relate, I’m yet uncertain. The company still remains very focused on its core products and revenue streams, including online text-based advertising. The latest product release should prove a real serious threat to the likes of Cisco et al. The features seem enticing, and the price point ($999) is reasonable for the functionality. The Signage box is much less expensive at $179.
My personal worry is that Google Chromebox also may prove a threat to the digital signage market for the following reasons:
- It’s a set-top box. By partnering with Acer on the hardware, they’re furthering their competence in the small-form-factor set-top box market.
- They already do advertising. Advertising is their business. Doing a massive digital signage advertising network or providing the tools for doing so would require some simple, albeit significant, retrofitting, but the possibility still exists.
- They’ve already toyed with kiosks in the past. We’ve even talked about it.
- The software includes facial tracking/recognition. This is the missing link between ad networks that work and those that done. Advertisers want to know people are actually viewing the content. That’s one of the reasons, Intel went neck deep with the acquisition of Cognovision.
- They could integrate Chromecast. For those not familiar with Chromecast, it’s very similar to our mediaDROID stick. Some combination between the Chromebox, Chromecast and Chrome kiosk mode could really do some major damage very quickly.
While there are downsides to others in the industry to a potential entrance by Google, either organically or by acquisition, there are also some potential benefits. Nothing provides more legitimacy than another publicly-traded, multi-billion dollar behemoth getting into the market. It could help boost demand for general DS products. Currently none of the other elephants in the room (Intel is the real beast) have real experience running an ad-based biz model–another boon for Google. Second, having Google in the market could help to flesh out the ad-based model further–something which still has yet to materialize. The likes of NEC’s VUKUNET and more recently BroadSign only have really scratched the surface of such a network’s true potential.
Just as a side note, I’m currently crafting this post on my Google Acer Chromebook. I love the thing, especially the cost ($200). When Google finally decides to make a few tweaks to Google Docs, Microsoft may have a very major issue on their hands. And if they ever decide to partner with Acer on some media players or a Chromecast-like signage stick, I’m sure the price point could be at or below what we’re already charge.
I know starting rumors is a bit childish, but it’s fodder for meaningful discussion. Do you think Google should enter the digital signage market? If so, what would it mean?