Entry-level and high-end converging to propel the digital signage market into 2015
As 2014 draws to a close, the digital signage market is steadily expanding. A great deal of this growth is organic. More and more retailers, restaurants, offices, airports and other transportation hubs are adopting digital signage because it is affordable, reliable and easy to update. Printed digital signage that is peeling and out of date is now unacceptable — dynamic digital signage has become the norm.
A sector that is seeing particular expansion is luxury retail — an expansion being driven largely by 4K. These retailers are highly image conscious and quality sensitive, and they are finding that state-of-the-art 4K digital signage suits their needs perfectly. With a 4K player paired with a "true 4K" display, the resulting signage is as crisp and satisfying as high-quality print imagery. Most content at this top end of the market is shot in 4K anyway, so a modest investment in a 4K player and screen takes full advantage of that 4K content, providing an immediate return on that investment.
We're also finding that 4K players are being more widely adopted than expected, and they're not always being paired with 4K screens. Many of these players are being used to feed conventional 1080p content with sophisticated HTML5 and other dynamic elements. Due to the 4K player's more powerful graphics engine, the player is capable of producing a richer viewing experience. The cost premium isn't that great, and the customer gets a future-proofed solution that will transition seamlessly to 4K content and displays as the installation is updated over time.
Also, at the other end of the spectrum, additional growth is being driven by an expansion into the entry-level, or "low end," of the market. Integrators are seeing increased price competition for large-scale kiosk rollouts in big-box retail, among other settings. Until now, the only low-cost option was to try to work with a consumer device that wasn't built for digital signage and didn't deliver the reliability and functionality of commercial-grade, purpose-built player. Now that professional-quality, reliable, low-cost, networked signage players are available, we are seeing more and more new customers jumping at the chance to replace printed signage with digital displays in applications where cost was previously a barrier.
If 2014 was all about 4K, I believe that 2015 will be a year of healthy and sustainable growth in the digital signage industry — growth driven by the proliferation of 4K and the emergence of reliable low-cost digital signage solutions. There is plenty of opportunity for organic growth that will sustain the market for many years to come. At the same time, the emergence of 4K in particular is not only opening new markets, but is also driving a replacement cycle. Existing users will upgrade their installations to take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of this new technology.