Utah-based mobile device management (MDM) startup MokiMobility made a timely introduction of its new Android customizable browser app for creating in-store kiosks on Android-based tablets. The solution is lightweight and allows complete remote control of the devices, including the ability to reboot the device, install and update apps, and have an app start by default automatically when the device boots. This kind of control and flexibility is why the company believes that Android has a bright future in the realm of digital signage, kiosks and other customer-facing capacities.
Android is arguably a better OS for single-purpose kiosk and marketing use, precisely because of the features and functions that it often gets criticized for in the consumer sphere. It’s malleable, so the experience can vary drastically from one device to the next depending on tweaks that can be made at a fundamental level to the OS itself, or simply layered on top with little to no development experience via third-party apps and other tools. Now, with Google finally showing some real investment in tablet offerings with a Nexus-branded tablet from a third-party manufacturer, the time couldn’t be better for MokiMobility to start addressing these devices and Android’s potential in the commercial signage market.
“We’ve been working on this for quite some time, and we’ve got some customers who are already using it in fact,” said MokiMobility CMO Brad Hintze in an interview. “We think that Android shows a lot of promise, and is the future of digital signage and kiosks, because it is open-source, and there are so many different form factors. Other manufacturers can get in and start building the right screen sizes that are popular in those areas.”
Today Android tablets are geared towards consumption activities like reading and portability (7-inch) or movie and video watching (10-inch). These are great for those kinds of uses, but not necessarily for retail and customer service. “That doesn’t always translate to an excellent kiosk, so you’ve got some manufacturers who are already working on creating some 20-inch tablets, that have the same display and touch responsiveness features,” he said. “Android enables that.”
That’s not the only thing about Android that makes it a good candidate for the kind of MDM MokiMobility’s clients are looking for. The new version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean,” introduces new features that make it ideal for this kind of application.
“One of the things that really will help is the development of Google’s Android platform SDK,” Hintze said. “That initiative will make it much easier for manufacturers to take and customize the operating system for their own needs. Then they can use the SDK to customize it, and as new operating systems come out, they can quickly migrate over to the new versions.”
Unlike Android phones, tablets using the OS haven’t been nearly as enthusiastically embraced by users. Google is clearly focusing development efforts to make that happen, but ultimately it could be opportunities in display advertising and customer-facing business applications that the software really flourishes on. Which isn’t necessarily great for Google, since it doesn’t charge a licensing fee for use of its software and in single-purpose applications, users aren’t generally able to search or share the kind of information that Google makes its ad revenues on. But it’s a win for MokiMobility and others looking to provide those kinds of software solutions to businesses at a significant discount, and with less training required, when compared to the options that currently dominate the industry.