Monday, February 26, 2007

Sony Ericsson prepping mobile phone music kiosks?

Engadget is perpetuating an interesting rumor about new music download kiosks from Sony Ericsson. The post is pretty light on details and heavy on speculation:
... it's no secret that Sony Ericsson's here to stay in the mobile music space. Rumor has it that the joint venture's latest foray involves something mysteriously referred to as a "music kiosk" -- presumably a public, standalone box of some sort that blasts appropriately-equipped phones with tunes for a fee. Of course, the concept is anything but new, so we're not entirely sure what's going to set Sony Ericsson's effort apart; we still prefer the idea of getting our music served hot 'n fresh over the high-speed airwaves, but we suppose we could be swayed if it's cheap enough and compatibility falls beyond the Sony Ericsson domain.
I agree with the original poster. Pretty much everybody has some sort of music download kiosk these days, and with wireless speeds getting faster and faster, it's just not that compelling to have to go somewhere to buy music when it can be downloaded almost as quickly from the comfort of your own home/office/car/wherever you might decide to download.

Tags: Sony Ericsson, music download kiosk, self-service

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Webraiser acquired by Flextronics

And here I thought all of the hot M&A news was only happening in the digital signage space... According to this brief article at Kiosk Marketplace, WebRaiser is being acquired by outsourced manufacturing giant Flextronics.

Not a lot of detail thus far, and unfortunately neither Flex or WebRaiser have issued press releases (that I can find) yet, but considering that WebRaiser was privately held (and the acquisition would be too small to show up on Flex's $15B general ledger), we'll probably never know the intimate details like selling price, sales multiples, P/E and the like. According to the Sacramento Bee, Mark Breunig, WebRaiser's Senior VP and General Counsel, "confirms the sale and says a formal announcement is set for a trade show in April [noting that] 'We don't want to tip our hand to competitors.'"

Tags: WebRaiser, Flextronics, kiosk software

Saturday, February 10, 2007

MediaCart aims to bring multimedia, interactivity to shopping carts

MediaCart, the latest venture that aims to bring the lowly shopping cart into the 21st century, has announced the start of real-world trials of its interactive shopping cart technology, and claims it has "generated interest" from the nation's top 10 retailers. Of course, interest doesn't pay the bills, and Google is always ready to remind us about the numerous failures for this kind of project, however for some reason Advertising Age, a publication not exactly famous for their love of in-store media, seems to think that MediaCart has "cracked the code" and will be successful in its endeavors. The system uses a video screen at the front of the cart, where it's impossible to miss, unless you really over-load your cart. To promote acceptance, the system promotes a variety of "smart shopping" features, using navigation buttons on the cart's handle to let the user access features, promotions and coupons, and even activate a self-scanning feature that can dramatically speed up the checkout process when properly used. As the Advertising Age story also notes, the system integrates with loyalty programs that provide users with even more valuable information and offers in exchange for some personal and shopping information:
About 80% of MediaCart features will work without using individual consumer data, Mr. Carpenter said. That could overcome a sticking point not only for privacy advocates, with whom he said MediaCart has been in contact, but also for such retail giants as Wal-Mart Stores, Target and Walgreens, which don't have loyalty programs.

But the company concedes that at retailers with loyalty programs, shoppers will probably have to swipe their ID cards to benefit from promotional offers or special features such as downloading shopping lists from their computers or uploading recipes from the carts to their computers.
Whether MediaCart will be the one that makes it, or whether it will go the way of many other attempts to enable shopping carts with advanced technology remains to be seen. But obviously there's a lot that needs to be done before a company goes from "a few pilots" to long-term relationships with major retailers. So I say, good luck, MediaCart! If your predecessors were any indication, you may need it.

Past articles about this sort of thing include:
Giant experiments with grocery store of the future
Group suggests using shopping-cart kiosks...
Another article on the Shopping Buddy Kiosk

Tags: MediaCart, Shopping Buddy, Cuesol, shopping cart, in-store media, retail media

Monday, February 05, 2007

DVD burning kiosks to provide movies on demand

A few weeks ago we noted that a consortium of companies were contemplating a new DVD format that would allow the proliferation of DVD-burning kiosks that could dispense copyrighted titles on copy-protected DVD media that could be played in most standard DVD players. Unlike CD-burning kiosks, DVD kiosks could offer a real innovation in the market, since it's still relatively difficult (and often illegal) to download and burn movies to DVD. As we noted in the previous article, the biggest hurdle was getting the big studios to accept the new DVD format, and the business model of burn-on-demand DVDs overall.

After all that, it looks like we may be getting ready to see the first wave of DVD kiosks soon. According to this article at MSNBC, "major film studios have given their backing to a DVD format that will allow shops to compete better with online retailers by selling a far wider selection of films. The DVD Download format features copyright-protection software that will allow stores to burn any one of thousands of movies on to a DVD while customers wait."

Obviously the biggest perceived benefit is that of product line extension -- being able to supply customers with more of the 65,000 DVDs that are out there without having to reserve more shelf space for each new title. Indeed, as Mark Ely, Sonic's Head of Corporate Strategy notes, "In the next three to four years, we expect 15-20 per cent of DVDs will become on-demand rather than being displayed on retailers' shelves."

Tags: DVD kiosk, interactive kiosk, self-service, Sonic

Friday, February 02, 2007

FL Governor Crist wants to ditch touch-screen voting kiosks

I'm no fan of Florida's electronic voting machines, as I've noted numerous times in the past. Aside from numerous security concerns and the lack of any kind of paper trail, the screen layout can be confusing and the touchscreens are frequently unresponsive.

Apparently, I'm not the only one that feels this way, as new Florida governor Charlie Crist has decided that the machines aren't all they were originally billed to be (which, for the record, was a cure-all for the voting stupidity that overtook my state in the 2000 presidential elections), and wants to get rid of them in favor of optical paper reading ballot machines used by many other states, according to this article in the St. Petersburg Times.. Crist is expected to ask the state Legislature for over $30-million to replace the touch screen systems in 15 of the most highly-populated counties (including the now-infamous Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and my own home county, Broward) with an optical system that allows a voter to physically mark an circle next to the selected candidate’s name (thus leaving a physical record), and then slip the ballot into an electronic reader, providing instant feedback and verification.

I'm sure this saga isn't over yet, but at least there's hope in sight now, and the government is working to replace its previous mistake (which was really just a knee-jerk reaction to another previous mistake).

Tags: e-voting, voting kiosks, electronic voting machines, florida