Broadsign Ends Long Holdout, Joins Crowd Of CMS Software Firms Supporting Smart Displays

May 9, 2022 by Dave Haynes

System On Chip “smart” commercial displays have been around for almost 10 years now, but Broadsign – one of the bigger players in digital signage content management  software has steered clear of the technology … until now.
The Montreal-based software firm, which is heavily focused on the digital out of home advertising sector, has announced it now has a beta version of its player software developed for three of the mostly used versions of System On Chip (SOC) devices – LG webOS, Samsung Tizen and BrightSign, which has system on chip-based media playback devices that are just player boxes.
Sony was technically the first large display manufacturer to market smart displays with embedded media players, but Samsung was the first to make it a major element, and pretty quickly a dominant element, of its commercial display product mix. Samsung has been at the smart display game since 2013, followed by LG and then by most of the other displaycos, usually using some version of Android instead of proprietary, Linux-derived operating systems.
While many software firms developed web player or native player (deeper and more involved) versions of their software to run on these “smart” units, Broadsign did not. Back in 2013, it was instead among the first to go big on dedicated, low-cost Android playback boxes (though it reverted the focus to Windows a couple of years later).
I don’t know the thinking behind the shift now, but suspect the decision to develop to smart displays owes much to how SOC hardware has matured and improved through the years, and customer interest. The circa 2013 smart displays weren’t all that smart, and couldn’t do a hell of a lot more than function as digital menu displays or run simple loops. Today’s versions have much more computing and graphics power and also have much more back-end capabilities, like remote management.
That maturation has compelled many more end-users to use SOC, and as adoption and usage has now grown common in digital signage, there would likely be a lot of end-users and resellers asking Broadsign about it.
“Adapt Media is excited about Broadsign SoC as it will greatly simplify our digital signage setup, allowing us to expand our DOOH networks more rapidly and cost-efficiently,” says Tatiana Abondano, DOOH Media Manager for Toronto’s Adapt Media. “We will only have to invest in one device and we will have our screen and player needs taken care of simultaneously, reducing our deployment time, efforts, and overall costs.”
Broadsign in PR says the benefits of supporting and using SOC include:

“SoC represents the next big opportunity for Broadsign customers to expand their OOH footprint and reduce their hardware investment,” says Maarten Dollevoet, Chief Revenue Officer, Broadsign. “We’re thrilled to bring all the automation, inventory optimization, and monetization opportunities that the Broadsign platform offers to SoC solutions from major industry players like LG, Samsung and BrightSign via this launch.”

The early marketing for smart displays tended to focus on how having a commercial display with a built-in media player removed the need and substantial cost for a separate media player, but in reality the most that really did was lower the cost. The SOC media player component was just added to the display cost, and as companies standardized on smart displays, it became increasingly hard to discern what that added cost was, because there were no “dumb” versions of the same displays to compare against and get a price delta.

The more contemporary arguments for these smart displays:

The anti-SOC crowd argues going SOC boxes software companies and end-users into proprietary platforms, limiting flexibility and having their development roadmaps contingent on the roadmaps of the display companies. They also worried, earlier on, whether the display companies would stick with SOC, though that has clearly diminished. All the major manufacturers now have substantial smart display offerings, with Sharp NEC the wild card with commercial displays that have trap doors to snap in optional smart modules, including an embedded BrightSign board and a Raspberry Pi 4 module.

  1. Paul Fleuranges says:

    I’ll hazard a guess here that this was probably always part of the roadmap for Broadsign, but with several pre-pandemic acquisitions (including AYUDA) they had to retune the engine and get things right under the hood before continuing down the SOC road. Just a guess…

  2. Fredrik Horn says:

    We have worked with Samsung SOC for some 5-6 years (from Tizen Sssp2 up to present Sssp6) with good result. For one client we hoste some 450 screens with this solution. The only downside as I see it is when you want to upgrade your solution/functions, you’re obligated to ajust development to the early releaes. This is of course true with whatever solution, but since the devolpment have most likely been greater in the SOC-industry, I’d say you are a bit more limited – at least if you planning to convert even existing screens.

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