Samsung Now Clearly Selling Its VXT CMS And Related Services Against Rest Of Digital Signage Software Ecosystem

April 30, 2024 by Dave Haynes

As expected in many industry circles, electronics giant Samsung is now competing directly with CMS software companies through its new-ish VXT cloud-based platform, even throwing in discount pricing if subscriptions are bundled with monitor purchases and selling installation services.

This is a product page from Samsung’s US site that shows a typical pro display, and a “RECOMMENDED” VXT Software Solution, as well as the separate Remote Management Software solution. “Purchase an annual S-Series VXT subscription with any QB, QH or QM series display to save $100 – it’s like getting six months free!”

The page also includes the ability to get the panel mounted, via an on-site tech arranged using ANGI (formerly Angie’s List).

Arguably, the shift to directly compete with companies that were in many cases its software and services “partners” has been telegraphed for a decade, and some observers might suggest it has always been competing. What’s readily evident is the company has been gradually sliding more and more into the businesses of the companies it had first courted as software and solutions partners.

When Samsung went on a blitz more than 10 years ago, developing CMS software partners for its proprietary Smart Signage system-on-chip displays, a lot of those software companies agreed to put significant resources and time into supporting the all-in-one displays. They did that even though Samsung had a proprietary operating system (Tizen) – because the software folks could see the marketplace shifting to smart displays, and they also saw opportunity in leveraging Samsung’s marketing muscle and business development reach. They might never get a meeting at giant grocer X, but Samsung could … and bring them in on the opportunity.

A few software and solutions companies, most notably STRATACACHE, steered clear of the smart signage proposition and perceived opportunity, using analogies like not wanting to let foxes in the business henhouses. They warned that Samsung would start as “partners” and get exposed to customers, better understand their needs and what sells, and eventually try to go direct with those customers, with their own products and services – cutting out the partners.

That wasn’t a real threat with Samsung’s MagicINFO software, which was mostly an on-premise solution that had limited capability and minimal support. But VXT, by comparison, is a cloud-based platform that, based on what I have seen and heard from observers, is competitive with many of the other CMS solutions on the market, and therefore a real option. Samsung previewed it last year and formally launched it at ISE several weeks ago.

Samsung is positioning VXT as mainly aimed at the SMB market, suggesting it has the resources and stomach to take on the smaller volume SaaS software contracts that many other companies avoid, as small business accounts can be needier than enterprise-level customers who have full-time technical resources, and the time and interest in training. Samsung also says VXT is a solution that software companies can build on top of – writing specific functionality – like displaying real estate listings that can then use VXTs’s platform for scheduling, distribution and monitoring. That part makes sense, though there are certainly other companies presenting the concept of a CMS being “headless,” and allowing outside developers to use APIs and leverage years of thinking, experience and functionality CMS companies have for large and involved screen networks.

This is what I wrote up following a lengthy, animated chat about VXT with Samsung’s Stephen Choi at ISE, and this is a post I did after InfoComm last year, when a Samsung manager suggested the industry should be put on notice about the coming VXT.

But it is also somewhat obvious and entirely logical that Samsung won’t want to just play in the SMB sandbox, and will happily take on enterprise accounts for VXT. At the same time they’ve talked up VXT as small business -focused, it has trumpeted a VXT enterprise-level rollout with the big Midwest US grocer Hy-Vee.

Samsung is by no mans the first or only big company to shift from partner to competitor. Amazon is probably the mother of all examples for that. It’s also a shift the company probably had to make if it wants to keep or make its digital signage activity viable. There’s not a lot of margin in commercial flat panels, and as we all know, the display market is shifting more and more to LED – where Samsung has quickly become a major player, but one among many. Being number 1 among 6 or 7 pro flat panel companies was easier than being tops among 100s of LED manufacturers. So the money now is in software subscriptions and recurring services.

I don’t see a general services broker site like ANGI – which is more about finding people to paint fences or fix leaky faucets – as a real answer for installs other than very simple one-offs, but I suspect arrangements are in place for multi-site, more involved rollouts, with a company that specifically does that stuff.

The small challenge it could have is on price. At $20 a month for VXT and another $10 for the remote management tools, that’s $30 per device per month, which is at the high end of the industry average for SaaS solutions, but probably 2X to 3X more than what a lot of competing companies charge for similar solutions. But thats the rack rate, and Samsung more than most has the ability to lower the number as needed to get deals … or throw it in for free.

Guys like STRATACACHE CEO Chris Riegel, never shy about speaking his mind and warning companies off partnerships with big tech companies, would be in full “I told you so” mode.

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