LAS VEGAS — Scala, provider of end-to-end solutions for the digital signage and advertising management markets, has announced at the digital signage Expo in Las Vegas six new initiatives aimed at lowering the cost of ownership for digital signage solutions and dramatically broadening the digital signage market.
As digital signage becomes more prevalent, companies ranging in size from the very small to the very large are investigating digital signage. Due to high upfront costs for both hardware and software required, some entry-level customers are unable to deploy digital signage networks even though they see the technology as beneficial. Scala has started six initiatives to help lower the barrier to entry for new digital signage customers by creating new entry-level products which significantly lower the total cost of ownership for those customers not requiring all of the more sophisticated functionality offered by current digital signage solutions on the market.
These initiatives revolve around more than just supporting low-cost hardware. Scala recognizes that there are digital signage customers that don’t need (or want to pay for) more than just playing back videos or simple advertising slide shows. Scala’s initiatives, therefore, embrace a wide variety of playback hardware and software from the very lowest end through the very highest end.
“These announcements send a clear message to our customers that regardless of their size or budget, there is a Scala digital signage solution that is priced right for them,” said Gerard Bucas, chief executive of Scala.
1. Scala announced a partnership with FrameMedia, Inc., to launch SignChannel, a new low-cost, self-service, easy to use, entry-level digital signage service based on wireless photo frame technology. A large number of small to medium-sized businesses will now be able to take advantage of digital display technologies that were previously unaffordable due to high service and equipment costs. Scala will provide software technology that will enable small business owners to create their own template-driven digital signage content and messages and have it automatically delivered to WiFi-enabled photo frames manufactured by suppliers such as Kodak, Samsung, D-Link, Viewsonic, Roku and others.
2. FASTSIGNS and Scala have joined together to provide the first digital signage offering to traditional printed signage customers where they typically buy their signage. When a FASTSIGNS customer walks into their local FASTSIGNS franchise they will now be offered digital signage when they may never have thought of using digital before. Each participating FASTSIGNS franchise will have an in-house graphics designer who will be trained on traditional signage software tools like Illustrator and PhotoShop, as well as on Scala’s digital signage authoring tool, Scala Designer.
3. Scala announced a new service offering for SaaS or “Scala as a Service,” a hosted version of Scala Content Manager that provides an online digital signage network for a simple monthly fee. No software installation, no server hardware — simply add any number of remotely located Scala Players and manage them from anywhere in the world using a standard Web browser.
4. The company announced upcoming support for the PC industry’s new buzz in low-cost PC platforms, the “Ultra Low Cost PC” (ULCPC) such as the eee PC from ASUS. At approximately half the cost of traditional PCs, these ULCPCs are being offered by most PC manufacturers today. These systems are exciting because they are inexpensive, usually compact and have low power consumption. They are less powerful than a full-fledged PC, so they won’t support playback of HD content, but are perfectly suited for DVD-quality content – which is more than sufficient for many customers. With an upcoming release targeted for the end of Q2, Scala will release specific optimizations to improve the performance of this type of hardware in lower-end digital signage applications.
5. The company announced support for several all-in-one devices that include a “PC built into the Screen” form factor. Scala has been working closely with companies like LG and Samsung to ensure that their “built into the Screen” playback PC modules meet the requirement of Scala’s 24/7 playback software, including support for HD content. Scala and the screen manufacturers’ engineers have been working closely together for some time to optimize the hardware and software combination to ensure that this new generation of screens is “Scala-ready” from day one.
6. The company also announced an initiative to support cost-effective video appliances (aka “MPEG Players”) reducing the total cost of ownership of both the hardware and software per Player. To kick off this initiative, Scala has entered into an agreement with IAdea Corporation in Taiwan to jointly develop native support in Scala’s Content Manager and Ad Manager platforms for IAdea’s RISC-based, industrial-grade video appliances manufactured by a number of top-tier Asian manufacturers. Scala Certified Partners around the world will soon be able to attach these video playback appliances directly to their Scala networks in addition to the traditional full-featured PC-based players, reducing the overall cost of ownership of such networks. These new products are expected to be available in the first half of 2009.