ObjectSoft Giveaways Tempt Kiosk Market
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,
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: http://www.wtonline.com .