Exclusive Coverage: BrightSign Takes Aim at New Markets

Digital sign player equipment maker BrightSign, Los Gatos, California, chose 2014 to take aim at markets on opposite ends of the digital signage spectrum: those companies seeking a low-cost, yet robust and reliable, solution to their digital signage needs, and high-end customers with the ability to pay for what the company calls the most advanced digital signage available today. To that end, the firm has introduced two new product lines it believes will appeal to those markets.

“It’s super-exciting for us. We invested into this R&D a couple of years ago,” says CEO Jeff Hastings. “The reaction has been very positive.”

Earlier this year BrightSign introduced its high-resolution 4K series of players, the company’s first entry into the high-end 4K-resolution market. Hastings notes that updates in compression technology allow for essentially the same file sizes to be used and have the images show up in the higher-resolution, 4K quality – something he contends has been elusive in the industry even as other companies were announcing their own 4K players.

“You can use our new 4K player to drive those higher-resolution, inside or outside LED displays,” he says. “As those resolutions go up you want to be able to supply data for all those pixels.”

The 4K series targets “a new wave of customers that have traditionally stayed out of the market,” Hastings says. The high-end retailer, as an example, is an important market the company wants to tap into, he adds.

“They’ve never felt that digital signage has that quality, that kind of brand feel, that represented their market, so they’ve mostly stuck with print,” Hastings says.

The three models in BrightSign’s 4K series range in price from $600 to $850, with varying levels of technological features.

One thing that is consistent across all of BrightSign’s product lines, Hastings says, is the software that is used. Whether it’s the high-end 4K series or the newly introduced LS series, the core software is the same.

BrightSign’s new LS series is on the other end of the spectrum from the 4K series. It’s designed for customers who require a lower price point but still want the quality they’re used to with BrightSign, Hastings says.

“The LS line kind of brings the price point down to half of where it was before,” he says.

Previously, customers seeking a lower-cost media player would have been steered toward the company’s HD product line, which ranges in the $350 to $500 range. BrightSign decided to drop the lowest-cost model from the HD line and create the LS line, which falls into two models. One is an audio-only device—the LS322—retailing for $200 and the video model—the LS422—costs $250 and offers 1080p resolution, or what the industry has traditionally called Full HD.

“As much as the high end of the market, the market is expanding upward, it always does so in a triangular fashion,” Hastings says, adding that the demand for low-cost solutions has been growing faster than the high-end demand.

“What we’re seeing in the (point of purchase) space is, they say, ‘We’ve got a budget, and so we’ve got to do it for this amount of money.’

“As the market expanded, customers went to other lower-priced P.O.P. displays.”

But complaints that BrightSign heard from customers who went elsewhere only validated his company’s entry into that lower-end market, Hastings says. Complaints ranged from buggy software to video screen problems to power supply failures.

“You were basically using a low-end consumer product in a commercial environment, and it didn’t work out very well,” he says.

Hastings says he sees the LS series as yet another bridge that will help push more traditional sign shops into offering digital signage to their customers.

“Really, what’s been preventing that is sort of the cost gap between what I call the analog signage and the digital signage,” Hastings says.

But that’s changing as the cost of installing digital signage systems continues to fall and as the technology continues to become more user friendly, he says.

“Pretty much, if anybody is using a computer in that sign shop, they can use our software to program their signs,” Hastings says.

Along with the rollout of its 4K and LS lines, BrightSign has also upgraded both its HD and XD product lines, offering “greatly increased performance” while maintaining existing price points, the company says.

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