Having worked with Samsung HQ in Suwon, Korea for close to a year on the development and launch of the Smart Signage Platform, the Signagelive team has an in-depth understanding of the underlying technology, and as a result feel well qualified to talk knowledgeably on what the platform offers the digital signage sector.
I’ll start by saying that the move to integrate a chip into a display to run media content, instead of an external media player, is a game changer, fact. As Samsung have been quick and right to point out, the lack of an external media device offers some major benefits; eliminating the cost of the player, reducing the cost to power the display and making the installation and maintenance easier and cheaper.
The recent annual study conducted by Bill Gerba at Wirespring found that the average cost of a 40″ Digital Signage screen installed and maintained is $3,511, whereas the same cost for a 40″ Samsung Smart Signage Display (running Signagelive) is $2,000. A considerable saving and this does not include the cost of power, with the Samsung offering being 15% cheaper than a traditional Display and Player combination.
So if the headline benefits are true, why has their been some resistance to the Samsung Smart Signage Platform from some in our industry? I have a the following thoughts on why:
The digital signage industry is strewn with companies that make money by selling media players for use with their own software or for software companies to buy and rebadge as their own. In addition, there are companies who set their commercial expectations at a level that demands complexity and confusion to justify their pricing and sustain revenues to support their historical business cost base. These companies see the removal of a media player from the digital signage eco-system as a major threat to their current business model and future success.
The key difference when working with the Samsung Smart Signage Platform is that you are developing code that is based on open and standardised web technologies, allowing anyone to potentially write code for the Samsung Smart Signage Platform. Samsung has provided an enhanced toolkit that standardises a lot of the ‘value add’ functionality traditionally built into many digital signage software offerings, allowing Content Management System developers, like ourselves, to concentrate on delivering functionality that adds real value and differentiation.
Fear of Samsung
I must admit, when we first heard that Samsung was interested in discussing their plans for a ‘SmartTV for the commercial world’ with us back in September last year, we were intrigued, yet mindful of their ability to dominate anything they turn their focus to. We were already aware of their capabilities to write digital signage software code with their own MagicInfo software, but was the Smart Signage Platform really a proposition that would allow digital signage software companies to build a business around and leverage Samsung’s global brand awareness and established sales channel and customer base?
After ten months of building a close working relationship with Samsung, we can report they are definitely ‘friend not foe’ and their intentions to offer a Smart Signage Platform to the digital signage industry is a genuine offer.
So with the above taken into account and our own experiences of developing and launching support for the Samsung Smart Signage Platform, other than Samsung’s own views, do we think it is a game changer for the digital signage industry? Yes we do, definitely. What the Samsung Smart Signage Platform does, it does extremely well and will eliminate the use of external player solutions for a large percentage of digital signage applications. It will also open up new opportunities and re-engage companies that had previously dismissed digital signage, due to the complexities and costs of what has gone before.
Whilst one-off high-end interactive solutions will continue to demand more powerful external PCs to run their applications, the Samsung Smart Signage Platform will appeal to the mass market. However, as we have all witnessed the rise of Samsung in the mobile market, you can be sure that if the first generation of Samsung Smart Signage Displays aims to capture a major share of the digital signage market, the second and future generations will add enhanced capabilities that will eventually eliminate the need for external media players.
The above focuses on the Samsung Smart Signage Platform and where Samsung leads, others will follow, so we can expect to see other major display manufactures launching alternative ‘chip inside’ offerings, that will further remove the need for an external media player and accelerate the move to no-PC digital signage.
Remove the external player costs and digital signage becomes much more affordable. The more affordable digital signage becomes, the faster digital signage will be adopted, which is what the industry needs to realise it’s true potential.