Friday, August 11, 2006

Digital sign player HumWare to acquire Audio Video Interactive

So-called "new media" speciailist HumWare Media today announced that they were going to acquire Audio Video Interactive (AVI). I have to admit that I'm not familiar with AVI or its offerings, but apparently they make some kind of embedded Linux-based digital signage players. Since HumWare owns and operates their own media networks (and presumably sells advertising and sponsorships as well), I'm don't completely understand why they'd want to acquire the hardware manufacturer. The two things that I could come up with are a) they want a shot at AVI's customers (who supposedly include Best Buy, Nike, Radio Shack, Verizon and Samsung), or b) they think that the digital signage player market is actually a good one (they estimate it at about $150M in size).

I have no way of really estimating the size of the hardware market, since every analysis that I read includes different things (players vs. players + screens vs. screens + installation + maintenance), but I'm reasonably certain that they're going to have a hard time selling hardware to other network operators that might compete directly against HumWare and its Boondoggle Sports Network.

The other option is that HumWare wants access to AVI's blue chip customers. I'm not sure if they have anything to offer these retailers, since the vast majority of their experience to date has been in restaurants and sports bars.

Of course a third option is just that AVI has good cashflows and would be a good hedge for HumWare. But given the past acquisitions in our market, that would be the exception and not the rule.

A fourth option is that HumWare really wants to get out of pinksheet trading, and thinks that the acquisition might get them to OTC.BB status.

Here's a bit more info about the hardware, for the interested.

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