My last post questioned the logic and motives of Intel’s decision to come to market with their own digital signage platform (referred to by everyone but me as a CMS). I hope a disclosure is not required here, but Real Digital Media has been in that business, optimizing solutions on Intel x86 platforms, for many years. I am biased, but realistic. Intel can and will do whatever it wants, and has enough money to burn on whatever it chooses to. Having audited the well-hyped webinar that made Intel an official competitor while still being a supplier, any confusion that I may have had about strategy or intent is removed. Well, not really. But I can see clearly now that this move does not make them savants. It just makes them the latest giant company to get it wrong. Here are the highlights as I perceive and recall them:

  • They did this because customers begged them to:  Really. They said that.
  • They are trying to solve the “omnichannel challenge”: There was some garbled logic around a slide about e-commerce and store-based retail, web and mobile. There are certainly data-related challenges there, but the truth is that content is not fungible seamlessly across all of those platforms due to screen sizes, resolutions and formats. It is not clear how a digital signage platform brings order to either the data or the cross-platform content problems. When asked if their solution to the omnichannel challenge included support for mobile campaigns, the answer (sans spin) was “No, maybe in the future”. There was clear recognition that mobile is a mega-trend, along with social media, big data and analytics, however. At least they didn’t mention the cloud.
  • There are five compelling reasons to choose Intel’s RCM: The problem here is that two of them relate to chip-based or existing features (AMT and AIMSuite) that predate RCM and can be acquired on their own, and the others include the ability to create campaigns and move data securely. Heady stuff.
  • They are still working on the spin: When asked directly if Intel is now competing with other digital signage software providers, the answer (paraphrased) was, “No…Yes… but we will continue to work with other vendors to make their solutions work best on Intel architecture.” Perhaps schizophrenia is the new normal.
  • This will become the unifying standard for the industry: Why? Well, because Intel says so. The problem is that they are positing a standard based on high end chip sets and Windows. In case you were just released from solitary confinement, the industry is running full speed toward low cost, fanless media players and Linux for the most pervasive use cases. No matter how many talking heads and journalists are compromised by money, no matter how many drinks are poured, a Wintel standard for digital signage is pure fantasy.
  • The focus, like the name, is about Retail: Rather than focusing their efforts on applications of their high performance core products, they have chosen to focus on a vertical… a vertical that has been slow to embrace digital signage with their own money, and one that is famous for being, well, parsimonious. You had better solve some problems nobody else can solve if you are charging premiums for the chips and OS before anything actually happens! The one concrete ROI opportunity mentioned related to management of non-performing retail inventory. Agreed, this is a retail-specific opportunity. No details on how the problem would be solved, or why RCM might solve it better than anyone else, however.
  • There is nothing new here: There was very, very little said about what makes RCM different or better than other solutions available in the marketplace. From what was said, it seems that this is me-too stuff at best, surrounded by standard slide decks that we all saw in 2008. There might have been more excitement on both sides of the webinar if the announcement was about managing video walls or doing something snazzy with content. But the die was cast with the tried-and-true first slide reminding us that digital signage can promote the right product, at the right time in the right place. Ironically, at first blush it appears that RCM is none of those things.

I wish clarity of vision for everyone in the industry. That would be something that would spur real innovation. I’ll let Jimmy Cliff wrap it up.