An Open Letter to Samsung: Please Don't Botch The Frame
My love-hate with Samsung is becoming especially passionate. If you are keeping score at home, I was rooting for the Note7 rebound, wholeheartedly disagreed with their smart fridge, and felt confident about their LED movie theater venture.
But now, the same 'The Frame' I was touting as a game changer is getting lost in Samsung's own message. At IFA, a chiefly consumer-focused buying show, we saw the frame on display as if it were art, which makes sense. However, a week later at CEDIA, a B2B venture for integration solutions, the same product was displayed as a hiding-in-plain-sight TV, nestled among other pieces of art from a living room - which also makes sense.
I can't for the life of me figure out which message Samsung wants to give to the world because both directions seemingly fit the bill.
On the one hand, I want The Frame to stand out as a true work of art. At $2,000-plus, maybe it should be targeted at the truly affluent who want to change pictures in a hallway of their home or maybe it helps a designer pull a room together. On the other hand, this is the first time a hanging TV could double down on a gimmick and produce something really functional. Wrap that it in an aesthetically pleasing wood frame, give it a 4K, smart-TV sex appeal and The Frame could sell its way around some otherwise cheeky marketing.
There once was an era of tech dominating a room, but the pioneering manufacturers have found ways to increase performance while minimizing footprints. Nowadays, they are hiding speakers in walls and TV's behind moving panels but building a product that can hide with the decor you already own while delivering on cutting-edge technology can be positively game-changing. The Frame is the summation of all these elements.
So when Samsung created the TV as a piece of art, I was on-board. But it feels like their message at IFA, as a literal piece of art, is giving the wrong impression. The message at CEDIA, as a functional piece of your home, is where this TV thrives. I believe that if a consumer wants to grasp the purpose of The Frame, Samsung needs to portray its value as hidden tech that can blow you away by becoming art, not beating consumers over the head with it.
The Frame is not a TV, and it is not a picture frame. It is a full package aesthetic that needs to be valued as both. I believe that the presentation at CEDIA, as an activated anchor to a home theater, is the correct move. A marketing campaign that stresses the TV, as a novelty - i.e. a piece of art - is actually more harmful past the shock value. The atmosphere of an art gallery actually plays into a novelty factor, whereas a hidden piece of tech proves its lasting power.
My advice to Samsung - whatever that's worth - don't play into the novelty. The Frame really dominates the whitespace, even if it's priced a little high for the mass market.