Thursday, December 14, 2006

Get your free digital signage software!

Back in 2006 when I first wrote this article, it was just a snarky response to an equally snarky blog post from a fellow industry blogger:

Dave Haynes at Digital View is apparently competing against me for this year's Digital Signage Sarcasm Award (DSSA), and has put up a good fight with this post about free digital signage software from the latest entrant into our already-crowded industry. His take on the newcomer summarized in one line:
I never really thought our business was on the precipice of revolt, waiting for somebody to rise up and stick it to the man. But there you go.
I'm with you, Dave. Our list now has over 300 competitors somehow, and I shudder at the thought of how high that number would be if we were to add in the bulk of our European and Asian competition. While it would seem that the barrier to entry into the digital signage industry is quite low (as evidenced by the number of players in the market), to win any significant business takes not only a great product, but also years of history, expertise in your target market, and of course an absolutely killer staff that your customers will all love (so really, it's like every other B2B market).
However, traffic to this page, compellingly-titled "get your free digital signage software," continues to be pretty steady, and I'm guessing it's not just because you like my style of curmudgeonly humor. No, you're probably here because you're actually looking for digital signage software that is free. Well, there's some good news, and some bad news. First of all, folks, nothing in life is free. I know, I know, the curmudgeon rears its ugly head again, but it's true.

See, there are some open source digital signage packages out there (at least one built for the task, and a few that are bolt-on modifications to popular content management packages like Joomla), and those are generally free as in "free speech" and free as in "no money for this software." Of course, unless you value your time at ZERO, there's still the time it takes to assemble the components, get them running, and then maintain them, and a cost associated with that. Maybe you're an IT pro with Linux kernel hacking skills, and that's no problem. Maybe this is a fun hobby for you, which is great. Or maybe you just have to meet some business objective, and after that you have better things to do with your life.

If you're looking for low cost digital signage software or systems though, there are a fair number of options. Lots of vendors now sell low-cost turnkey packages designed for small networks. And of course, there are plenty more options for digital signage software as a service (SaaS), which you can think of as paying for help with the software (and ancillary stuff like bandwidth, storage, etc.), which might ease your sleep at night. It should certainly improve your operations.

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