Friday, April 21, 2006

Focus Media sued for unfair competition

Focus is clearly one of the digital signage industry's biggest players, so it's not too surprising to see them throwing their weight around to win deals, especially in light of China's... um... interesting approach to public-private interaction. Reuters reports that:

A Shanghai advertising firm has sued rival Focus Media for $1.7 million, accusing the Nasdaq-listed company of using unfair competition to lure one of its clients in violation of a contract.

In its lawsuit filed last month in Shanghai, CGEN Digital Media Network Co. Ltd. said it signed a contract in 2004 to provide in-store advertising services to 13 outlets of Hymart-Hymall, a Taiwanese hypermarket chain 50 percent owned by Britain's Tesco Plc .

The suit alleges that Focus used unfairly competitive practices the following year to win over Hymart-Hymall, inducing it to break its contract with CGEN and promising to pay any penalty the Taiwanese retailer might incur in the process.

CGEN is asking the court to make Focus cease its unfairly competitive behaviour, as well as issue an apology and provide economic compensation of 13.57 million yuan ($1.7 million).

A spokeswoman for Focus Media said the company was aware of the lawsuit, but had no further comment.

I'm quite curious to see how this turns out, especially since CGEN has already sued Focus and won (albeit a much smaller amount) for the same claim in the past.

Televisa to deploy digital signage to WalMart Mexico

After reading the press release from ATC mentioned below, I decided to dig around and see what was going on with WalMart Mexico. According to this Wall Street Journal article from March 6th:

Mexican media conglomerate Grupo Televisa SA (TV) said Monday it would invest $20 million to install and run a new in-store television advertising system in stores of retailer Wal-Mart de Mexico (WALMEX.MX).

Under the agreement, Televisa will install about 5,000 screens in 300 Bodega Aurrera and Supercenter stores of the local unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the companies said in a release.

The broadcaster will produce a network and sell advertising to promote Walmex products, and the two companies will share revenue from the venture.

Still a bit sparse on the details, but since Televisa owns something like 90% of the TV networks in Mexico, it's not too much of a stretch to think that they will be producing content and selling ads, much like PRN does for WalMart in the US.

American Technology Corporation to sell boatload of HSS speakers to Televisa

American Technology Corporation, the creators of a very neat hypersonic directional sound speaker being deployed in a number of large digital signage networks these days, announced that it has received an initial 1,350 unit HSS(R) order from Grupo Televisa, the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world. Group Televisa is utilizing ATC's revolutionary HSS(R) directed audio system in a new in-store advertising system being installed in select stores of Wal-Mart de Mexico.

Obviously the most interesting thing about this is that Wal-Mart de Mexico is deploying digital signage at all. Thus, the following blog article :) Oh, you can read the original ATC press release here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Clarity Signs $3.8 Million Deal with AdSpace Networks

In some kind of wierd, quasi-incestuous way, AdSpace Networks (formerly CoolSign) will be purchasing $3.8M of stuff from Clarity (per this press release), whom as you may recall, purchased the software assets of AdSpace some time last year.

That $3.8M will be spent on a few hundred Clarity iS60 integrated systems, which combine a 60" plasma screen, computer, software and enclosure into something that is supposedly "turnkey" (though I've become increasingly skeptical of that term lately, hence the quotes :)

Apparently the systems will be installed throughout locations in Tampa, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, St. Louis and Cleveland, presumably this year.

From their boilerplate (in case you're not familiar with these companies):

Adspace Networks, Inc. builds, owns and operates the Adspace Mall Network, a network of full-motion digital displays located throughout select malls across the United States. The company's patent-pending technology empowers both advertisers and retailers with unprecedented targeting, flexibility and control of their advertising and promotions in the mall environment. The company was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in New York City. The Adspace Mall Network currently runs in 26 malls across the U.S. in markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and the Washington, DC Metro area.

Clarity Visual Systems provides large-scale display solutions, including hardware, software and services for business, government and other institutions worldwide. The company sells through value added reseller partners who serve customers' communication, monitoring and digital signage needs. Privately held, Clarity is headquartered in Wilsonville, Ore. with divisions in Burlingame, Calif. and Saint-Sernin, France.