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Dave Haynes

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Frame Media changes handle to Thinking Screen; chasing connected screen market

 
Boston-area startup Frame Media is now calling itself Thinking Screen Media, and broadening its field of play from just wireless picture frames to go after what it sees as a rich marketplace of screens driven by non-PC, Internet-connected devices like IP TVs and game consoles.

Reports xconomy (as spotted in James Van Etten's Clippings):
 
Through its FrameChannel platform, Thinking Screen works with publishers such as Time magazine, the New York Times, People magazine, and Weatherbug to offer more than 1,000 channels of content customized for such screens. (Users choose and configure the information feeds at Thinking Screen’s website.) The company is also partnering with virtually every consumer-electronics company on the block—names like Kodak, Motorola, Nintendo, Philips, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba—to make it easy for device owners to activate the feeds on specific devices.

“Most of the connected screens haven’t hit the market yet, but they will over the next six months,” says (CEO Alan) Phillips. In particular, Phillips says, “We’ll see an aggressive push by TV manufacturers to enable TVs to go beyond video.” A taste of what he’s talking about already familiar to millions of video game fans is the home screen of the Nintendo Wii, which, in addition to games, offers links to news, weather, shopping, and photos.

The 15-employee startup collected $5 million in Series A funding from Longworth Venture Partners and CommonAngels in May 2008, and there are plans to raise a Series B round this fall, Phillips says. When it comes to supplying content for tomorrow’s connected screens, Thinking Screen has both technical and strategic advantages over existing and potential competitors, he says.
 
The platform moves content around using Media RSS. I chatted with the company's Tom Wetmore several months ago, and would need to refresh my memory on the whole business model, but it definitely involves banner ads. I see this an entry-level platform for at least some business owners who want a truly dead-simple means to throw up a IP-based TV monitor or even use a Wii, load up a few JPEG stills for store or office messages, and roll in some targeted content. There are a bunch of ways to acheive that, but the difference here is the very large pile of partnerships the Thinking Screen people have already done with hardware and content people.
 
Company to watch, I think. 

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More Stories By Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes is one of the most seasoned professionals in the still young digital signage industry, with deep experience in everything from business development and sales to technical operations, product development and start-up strategy and fundraising. These days he is extensively working on business development and consulting for an industry big on enthusiasm but still a lot short of experience and know-how.