Why Samsung’s Smart Signage Platform Is Just Dumb

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

It’s called ‘Big Company Intoxication‘ and our industry has been full of it for years and it has perhaps, sort of come to a head, with last week’s, frankly ridiculous, press conference from Samsung and the launch of their so-called ‘Samsung Smart Signage Platform‘.

samsung smart washing machineThe motives are always going to be suspect of any large corporate entering the digital signage / digital out of home space.

As I made mention in my presentation ‘Five Undeniable Truths About Our Business‘ at last year’s Investor Conference in New York the precedent has been set – just take a look at Cisco / Intel / Harris / A.N. Other Screen Manufacturer…

Cisco want to sell networking equipment, Intel want to sell CPUs (mind you, dear old Jose still doesn’t understand that ‘one cpu per screen’ adds up to more chip sales than his deals with YCD-and-one-cpu-plus-graphics-card-equals-a-video-wall approach), Harris wanted to sell broadcast solutions AND the screen manufacturers strangely enough just want to sell screens.

The one thing that all these big companies have in common is that they do not understand the real dynamics of the industry (and perhaps never will). They are keen to jump into the industry and attempt to make a big splash but as we have continually said – there is absolutely no thought leadership from any of them and no attempt at cross industry standards setting.

So, back to last week at #ISE2013, where Samsung had a press conference to reveal the industry’s worst kept secret – that they were to launch their own Smart Washing Machines – no, whoops, sorry I am confusing that with #CES, I mean ‘Smart Signage Platform’.

Lest people be in any doubt of the power of the Samsung brand (and perhaps the dizzying array of food and drink on offer at a lunchtime press shindig) the press conference was absolutely packed with journalists and news crews.

Vincent Slevin, European Business Manager at Samsung Electronics, took to the stage and presented like a nervous school boy – either because he was nervous or much more likely, cos’ it soon showed, that the poor man knew nothing about the industry and was about to embarrass himself on stage.

He introduced Samsung as the industry’s saviour, they are already, we quote “world leaders in digital signage” and he added “this new introduction will revolutionise the industry”.

Revolutionise? Seriously? Who writes this stuff? Oh yes, that’s right people who do not understand the industry, have their own agenda and are arrogant enough to think that people will believe all that they are told.

There was much talk about building an eco-system, open this and open that, and of course ‘partnerships’ but of course bottom line, none of this is OPEN and Samsung’s one simple goal is not to help the industry, not to grow the industry but to sell more screens.

Samsung claim to already have 55 software vendors in their partnership programme but only two were presented on stage and as usual, the real story is all those that we know about who declined to sign up (it would be interesting to know who in our own #DSTop10 was approached and who declined).

Tom Nix from Scala and Jason Cremins from Signagelive were those brave enough to take part in the press conference and after the introductions / initial spiel, both gave credible presentations on why they were there and what it meant to them (to be fair the Samsung strategy better suits Signagelive’s business model and Jason did a good job of elaborating on how he saw it working).

Bottom line though, I cannot help feeling that both Scala and Signagelive have shot themselves in the foot by going so public with the partnership. We all know that in our industry big projects can come from anywhere, and you just know that the next time LG / Panasonic / Sharp / NEC Display Solutions / delete as applicable have an order for 1,000’s screens and are looking for a software solution for a client that they probably won’t come knocking on the door of Scala or Signagelive.

If you are a screen manufacturer and you truly want open then take a look at the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) and if you really want to push the boat out spend some time making sure that the free, multi-platform, open source media player that can be driven by any content management and scheduling system, i.e. OpenSplash works well with your hardware (same applies to all of the OPS compliant PC Manufacturers out there, of which there were dozens at #ISE2013 we were pleased to see).

7 Responses to “Why Samsung’s Smart Signage Platform Is Just Dumb”

  1. Only been waiting 15 years Says:

    When the screen manufacturers start talking to each other about industry standards like an industry common RS232 protocol or a common IR protocol to make the screens more inter-operable then we may start to believe the Kool Aid they dispense at these indoctrination sessions.

  2. Clive Sisyphus Says:

    It is hard to imagine why the people behind this endeavour think they can drive by the wreckage of similar attempts by LG, Panasonic, NEC, Sony, and yes, themselves and still call this a revolution. The LG Supersign product, which included a fully capable media player-in-a-slot and a version of BroadSign, fizzled. This appears to have a less powerful, more proprietary board and even lighter light versions of software. Samsung is a huge provider of ARM-based boards and a world leader in smartphones and tablets, both of which are consumer products which use those boards. People up the chain from Mr. Slevin apparently view digital signage as just another app on a giant tablet, and the vendors involved were only too happy to agree and enjoy the benefits of Samsung’s market power. Experts, including all the presenters at the press conference, have railed for years about the necessity of using commercial displays for digital signage, and they were right. Why then would it be wise to marry that with a consumer player platform? Digital signage, at least in the volumes that Samsung hopes to achieve, is a commercial business. Whilst there were many points made about what SmartSignage can do, little was said about what it can’t do, and the devil may well be in the details. The rock is once more pushed up the hill.

  3. Achilles Says:

    In this case, the phrase ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’ should be changed to ‘beware of Korean’s bearing gifts’.

    King Priam (also known as Tom Nix) heed Laocoön’s warning against Korean’s bearing gifts, for you good King have welcomed the enemy into your fair city and it shall be your downfall.

    While you think that the war is over and the Korean’s have sailed off in their fleet never to challenge the walls of your city, they have left you a gift….A Korean-Trojan Horse, which you have promoted to your citizens with many a press release about your greatness..…soon you shall learn that this Trojan Horse will come to life when your true enemy announces their new Samsung hosted software server farms and hundreds of direct selling enemy soldiers deploy to burn and pillage your fair city.

    King Priam, do not suffer the death of a fool…..turn back this gift before it is too late.

  4. Dave Haynes Says:

    Oh God I hate it when debates about the merits of embedded ARM processors inevitably turn to lengthy Greek mythology references.

  5. Geofj Says:

    Its all disappointing, this industry is going the way of IT companies no loyality. I’m not a fan of signagelive nor scala. Bigger marketing budgets and friends in high places doesn’t mean a better product.

    DS brands that change hardware loyalties like changes in the weather really make me laugh. We work with many display and hardware manufacturers as they all have different solutions that astheticially fit the need.

    He big question is When can clients purchase digital signage in Tescos And we are all cut out the loop by the manufacturers ?

  6. Blog Geek Says:

    Did anyone click on the picture ?
    I want one of the smart washing machines…!

  7. SteveW Says:

    Maybe better off putting DS advertising on the Smart Washing Machine screen instead!

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