“How do you assess the product “lifespan” and update cycle of your devices that are in the field?”
At Clear Channel Outdoor, we employ a number of methods to determine if a product is at or near the end of its life. Player PCs, modems and routers should be budgeted for replacement after three years. Most will last much longer if they are not in a harsh environment, but in my experience, I always like to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Depending on your service agreement, it may be cheaper to replace a player than repair it, so plan ahead. Everything breaks. Also, you don’t want to find yourself with your entire fleet in need of upgrades at the same time, so there are times it makes sense to upgrade/refresh. I would recommend replacing these components at the five-year mark regardless of performance.
When it comes to our actual product, we are very particular about the visual performance of our displays. While we employ a number of measurement methods, the most important and quantifiable is measuring brightness with a NIT gun. Our goal is to ensure our boards maintain the same brightness over their useful lifespan. To do that, we initially reduce the brightness and then slowly increase output as the LEDs degrade over time. For example, if we start a board around 75 percent of max brightness, the goal is to see a linear curve over the life of the display such that the board looks as good on its last day as it did on its first (brightness wise). Should we find that a board is not performing as expected, we work with our vendors to make sure our product delivers. There are a number of factors that can impact perceived image quality and brightness (sun damage to panels, contrast, etc.). In my opinion, running your product at full brightness on day one not only impacts the life of the product, but it also impacts your relationship with the community and your ability to deliver year over year.