Research: 17.2 M Digital Signs By 2019 (Updated)

May 27, 2015 by Dave Haynes


A boutique market research firm in Sweden, focused on the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine connectivity businesses, has pushed out a report suggesting global shipments of networked digital signage displays grew by 21.7 percent last year.

Berg Insight suggests that high growth will continue for the next several years, ticking along at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent.

That would mean 17.2 million displays out there by 2019. Berg suggests that by the end of last year there were already some 7.3 million units out there.

Here’s the summary of the research, which can be taken more seriously than the countless signage industry reports that come out from companies that produce scores of reports each month on anything from the global o-ring market to potash futures. At least this firm works specifically in the area of connected “things” like displays and smart devices.

According to a new research report from Berg Insight, global shipments of connected digital signage displays grew by 21.7 percent to 7.3 million units in 2014.

Market growth is driven by greater demand for digital signage solutions in all market verticals, technological advancements and a continued decline in prices.

Shipments to the EU28+2 countries totalled 1.8 million units, whereas shipments to North America reached 2.1 million units. The Rest of World region accounted for the remaining 3.4 million units shipped in the year.

Berg Insight forecasts that global shipments of digital signage displays will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent in the next five years to reach 17.2 million units by 2019. As a result, the number of connected digital signage displays in active use worldwide will grow from 25.4 million in 2014 at a CAGR of 20.2 percent to 63.8 million in 2019.

A new trend in the digital signage market is the expansion in both the high-end segment and the entry-level segment. “Growth in the high end of the market is driven by customers’ needs for next-generation signage solutions, which often involve integrations with various IT systems to enable the presentation of dynamic real-time information and targeted delivery of engaging content,” says Lars Kurkinen, Senior Analyst at Berg Insight.

He adds that promising opportunities are emerging for software vendors that develop middleware to enable more connected and integrated digital signage experiences.

The growing opportunity for entry-level digital signage systems is on the other hand fuelled primarily by the availability of new products at lower price points. “The emergence of new low-cost media players, declining prices for flat-panel displays and popularization of SaaS-based software solutions has made it easier and less costly than ever before to take a digital signage system into use,” says Kurkinen.

The price for entry-level systems has declined to just a few hundred dollars, which is creating new opportunities in many application areas, concludes Kurkinen.

I dunno …

If we take the 80:20 rule, and there are perhaps 200 SW companies doing ANY tangible business, so that’s 40 companies doing 80% of the business. So then divide 5.8 million (80% of the connected displays by end of 2014) by 40 (20% of the companies) and you get roughly 145,000 networked displays for each of those companies. I know some companies that would be perceived as pretty successful, so far, in this sector who aren’t at 10,000 software licenses yet, and they’d be top 20 companies, not top 40.

I’m not convinced anyone is close to 145,000 software licenses, never mind 40 companies.

On the other hand, if this factors stuff like TV walls in Targets and Walmarts and Tescos and wherever, where one software license can drive dozens of screens, well … maybe.

Update: I sent a note off to Sweden and Kurkinen, the analysts who did the report, sent me a helpful reply.

This paragraph from the exec summary of the study includes a brief definition on how we use the term connected displays:

“Digital signage is an ambiguous term used in reference to a wide range of solutions for presenting media and information on display screens. There is no universally accepted definition on what the term encompasses, but it generally includes a broad range of solutions as diverse as traffic signs, menu boards and in-flight entertainment displays. Berg Insight’s definition is a system that comprises a connected display screen, a media player and a content management system that are managed over a local network or remotely. Systems that require manual intervention, such as swapping a SD card in the media player to load new content, are left outside of the scope of this report.”

The number of connected displays refers to the number of screens. One media player can drive several screens. 

The highly fragmented nature of the digital signage market makes it hard to arrive at precise estimates on its size. We’ve approached this from several angles to try to get as good estimates as possible through triangulation. This includes collecting data on the number of active CMS software licenses for leading vendors in this space, shipments and installed base of media players for some of the companies active in the market, the sizes of DOOH networks, and shipments of large format commercial displays. 

So the numbers make more sense. I’d definitely leave off the InFlight Entertainment systems on airplanes as I don’t think anyone other than the people who sell advertising on airline seatbacks thinks those things are digital signs, or more accurately in that case, digital out of home displays.

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