More Evidence Google Is Coming Back To Digital Signage: It’s A DSE Sponsor Now

March 4, 2022 by Dave Haynes

Google raised a lot of eyebrows about seven years ago when it booked and kitted out a big footprint booth at the old Digital Signage Expo, but that was about a big a splash or impact the tech Godzilla made on the industry in the months and years that followed.

Now the company appears to be getting serious again about digital signage – with the DSE reboot – Digital Signage Experience – announcing that Google is a conference sponsor for the show set for mid-November in Las Vegas.

The sponsor announcement specifically names a product, as opposed to Google or Alphabet, as the sponsor. This tracks to recent news that a new version of the Chrome OS operating system – called Flex – see the cloud-oriented operating system and services no longer limited to just Chrome devices, like Chromeboxes, all-in-one displays and HDMI sticks.

With Flex, the pitch is that an Intel device – an Intel NUC, for example – can run Chrome OS, just like it runs Windows or Linux. That opens up the possibility to cut over to Chrome on an existing network of PC devices, or run blended networks that might have dedicated Chrome devices, but also PCs.

I have asked Google for more detail on what its plans are for Version 2.0 of its activity in digital signage and interactive kiosks, but have been told it will be more open to chat by summertime.

Chrome did not go away after that big splash in 2015, as several SMS software companies have included Chrome OS support among its variety of supported devices. A few companies – like Signagelive and Stratos Media – have a lot of software licenses on Chrome devices. But it is fair to say that given the sheer size, marketing muscle, awareness and user base of Google, the company would have been expected to be a much bigger player in signage. That didn’t happen, and I got a sense it  was all a bit of a skunkworks effort back in 2015.

It’s own CMS – Chrome Sign Builder – was about as basic as basic got, at least in its early iteration. None of the people involved back then are still involved, though moving around within the company may be entirely normal.

So we shall see what happens this time. Tech giants don’t have an overly strong track record in this industry (setting aside the display manufacturers), probably because relative terms it’s a pretty small market when compared to verticals like education. But awareness and adoption of digital signage technology has also grown a lot in seven years.


  1. Christopher F Quirin says:

    They have the capital to make a big splash. I’d love to see who is running their OOH efforts

  2. Wes Dixon says:

    Everytime an ‘internet” giant gets involved in digital signage, I just say thank you! They have no idea how time-intensive the support can be, and therefore expensive. So they jump in the pool with both feet, make a big splash, and then exit 6 months later leaving all their users high and dry…because they had “no idea it was so time-intensive and expensive!” So, thank you in advance Alphabet for all the business that will come our way when you leave (again).

  3. Ken Goldberg says:

    The Chromebox splash of ’15 never achieved the lofty digital signage goals Google had, which was probably to own the ad traffic. They never even returned to the show… until now. So seven years later, instead of selling lightweight boxes they are offering an OS for free (what happened to Android?) with what I would assume to be the same goal: leveraging the ad traffic and their infrastructure in what has become an increasingly interactive medium. Flex may find some traction in the general market, and the usual suspects will try to hitch their wagons to Google’s marketing machine, but don’t bet the mortgage on this meaning anything in the big picture.

    In a blog post from 2015, I quoted Phil Lenger, who said, “…I use their tools all the time. But I do not think I am ever going to trust my business to Google.” Mrs. Lenger didn’t raise a dummy.

  4. Jason Cremins says:

    For many partners Google has never gone away from digital signage.

    Chrome OS is a robust, performant operating system for running the vast majority of digital signage applications.

    We have several partners who lead with chrome OS for customer projects many of which have delivered projects that have scaled to thousands of devices, particularly where they have used Neverware CloudReady (the basis for Flex) on x86 devices.

    The challenge for Google has been how they position their Chrome Enterprise offering (formerly Chrome Device Management) alongside a digital signage CMS as there is overlap in the management and control of devices and additional cost.

    Those partners such as Entwined in Australia that are delivering chrome OS projects at scale have built a unified UX for customers that combines digital signage CMS functionality alongside Chrome Enterprise management using open APIs from both.

  5. Paul Fleuranges says:

    I recall that booth at DSE. Impressive looking. I won’t get in on the tit for tat on what Google’s presence at the upcoming DSE show and re-entrance into the digital signage ecosystem means in the long term. For the short term it’s a good thing for Questex, and hopefully a draw for some other firms who are currently on the fence about attending.

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