Kiosk Newsbit

ObjectSoft Giveaways Tempt Kiosk Market
(Newsbytes; 06/09/98)

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A., 1998 JUN 9 (Newsbytes) -- By Andrea Novotny, 
Washington Technology. ObjectSoft Corp. executives have devised a pitch for 
their interactive kiosks that some local governments are finding hard to 

The Hackensack, N.J.-based company has installed 25 of its machines in ferry 
terminals, libraries and other public locations in three cities since July 
1996. The kiosks provide people information about city services and tourist 
spots as well as transportation maps. They also allow citizens to search for 
job opportunities, renew driver licenses and obtain birth certificates.

The company, which has installed most of the kiosks at no cost to counties and 
municipal governments, is counting on advertising- related dollars to make its 
multimillion-dollar investment pay off, said George Febish, co-CEO and 
president of the company. ObjectSoft's Internet-based kiosks are in use in San 
Francisco, Seattle and New York City, but Boston and Chicago may soon join this 
group, Febish said. In King County, Wash., which includes Seattle, travelers 
can find out bus and ferry schedules, as well as real-time traffic information 
with ObjectSoft's kiosks. Unlike the other projects, the county paid ObjectSoft 
about $53,000 for eight kiosks, company officials said.

By year's end, ObjectSoft expects to have 100 kiosks installed throughout the 
United States, bringing annual revenues from $1 million in 1997 to $6 million, 
Febish said. The company is aiming for 200 to 300 kiosk installations in 1999 
and annual revenues of $10 million, he said.

ObjectSoft, which previously provided consulting and off-the- shelf, reusable 
software components to government and commercial clients, now is solely focused 
on the kiosk business. The company started trading publicly in November 1996 on 
the Nasdaq small-cap market, shortly after switching its focus. Its stock, 
which was valued at $6 per share in November 1996, was trading at $2.19 per 
share May 27.

"We are soon going to see kiosks in all major cities," said Febish. Governments 
are faced with the problem of how to provide information to citizens and kiosks 
offer an easy solution, said Febish.

The worldwide market for kiosks is expected to grow from an estimated 65,000 
units last year to nearly 500,000 units in 2003, said Francie Mendelsohn, 
president of Summit Research Associates in Rockville, Md., which specializes in 
kiosks, smart cards, biometrics and the Internet. Most of the worldwide growth 
will be retail-oriented, she said.

ObjectSoft currently supplies kiosks in the United States, which will remain 
the company's main market. Future plans call for installations in Europe, 
Febish said.

Also in the worldwide kiosk business are AT&T, Basking Ridge, N.J.; IBM Corp., 
Armonk, N.Y.; NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio; North Communications, Marina Del Rey, 
Calif., and smaller domestic players, such as Golden Screens America, New York.

IBM, which does not break out revenues for its kiosk business, is considered 
the global leader, according to Robert Chomentowski, research analyst in the 
information technologies group of Frost & Sullivan, an independent research 
firm in Mountain View, Calif. But Mendelsohn said ObjectSoft's goals may be 
within its reach. Government services are more likely to be available on kiosks 
if ObjectSoft provides the upfront funding to make that possible, Mendelsohn 

Instead of contracting with the government for the purchase of kiosks, as most 
other companies do, ObjectSoft scouts out a location and initiates agreements 
with municipalities so their information may be placed on the devices, she 

In nearly all cases, ObjectSoft does all the work without using taxpayer 
dollars, she said. That strategy is not widespread, although Golden Screens 
America and Lexitech of New Haven, Conn., use similar business models.

The demand for kiosks is stronger in the commercial sector, Mendelsohn said. 
Only about 10 percent of kiosks had federal, state or local government content 
on them in 1997, she said. But that figure should grow to 17 percent by 2003, 
she said. The growth of kiosks with government content will depend on whether 
there are public-private partnerships similar to relationships developed by 
ObjectSoft, Mendelsohn said.

But state and local governments across the country are experimenting with 
kiosks to streamline their bureaucracies. In Texas, the state contracted with 
North Communications on a project so that job seekers now can find out about 
openings for state positions. In Maryland, NCR worked on a project that allows 
residents to renew their car registrations via kiosks. ObjectSoft began 
providing its thinner SmartSign kiosks in San Francisco earlier this year. 
These kiosks can be mounted directly onto building walls and are only 7.5-
inches thick, thus taking up less space than older models.

For its part, NCR plans to parlay accounts with Indiana and Maryland into kiosk 
business opportunities with other state and local governments, said Robert 
Ferrari, self-service industry specialist for the company's Government Systems 
Corp. Those states are using NCR kiosks in shopping malls and other locations 
for motor vehicle registration renewals, Ferrari said.

NCR, which provides IT solutions for transaction processing and decision-
support, has 200,000 self-service terminals deployed worldwide. Most of those 
are being used by the banking industry, he said.

Reported by Washington Technology: .

Thanks Kinetic!

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