Samsung is hiring engineers to build a new video service, which could replace the company’s existing transactional video offering. The company also just hired an executive from Vdio, the Rdio-owned video service that at one point was meant to take on Netflix but shut down late last year.
Samsung’s Media Solutions Center has been looking for engineers to build a new video service for the past two months. An offer posted last week included the following job description:
“Over the past several years technologies such as broadband, the web, and mobile devices have fundamentally changed the way we discover, consume, and enjoy television. At Samsung we want to leverage our dominant position in the consumer electronics market to surprise and delight our customers with innovative new viewing experiences. We are looking for an established technical leader to help us assemble a world class client and server engineering team to help us to realize this vision. (…) In the role of Video Service Client Developer, this individual will join a small cross functional team developing Samsung’s next generation video service.”
Previously, Samsung also looked for a lead engineer for the same team, with job requirements including “experience delivering mobile service” as well as proficiency in “developing client applications on Android or iOS.” Notably, the job doesn’t call for any experience developing smart TV apps, which makes it clear that this service is primarily being developed for Samsung’s mobile device business.
Coincidentally, Samsung also just hired Scott Barrow, who previously worked for three years as SVP of Operations at Vdio, the Rdio-owned streaming video service that at one point wanted to take on Netflix with a subscription offering in the U.K. and the U.S. Vdio ended up launching with far smaller ambitions, and eventually got shuttered late last year, but Rdio’s former CEO Drew Larner had plans to combine Vdio with Rdio to a media subscription package before leaving the company last year.
His Linkedin profile now simply states that he is doing “something new” at Samsung. However, his tweet mentions Kevin Swint, who joined Samsung early last year as VP Content & Services after running Apple’s iTunes video business for close to five years.
Swint is thought to be a key player in Samsung’s efforts to reinvent its media services. One of Samsung’s business partners recently told me that Samsung let go of a number of mid-level management staff in the services group when it brought Swint on board last year. That source also told me that Samsung’s services used to be plagued by a device-lifecycle mentality: The company would build a service, and then simply neglect or discard it as soon as the next hardware generation came along.
Recently, there have been signs that Samsung is taking a new approach to services. The company launched a new music service dubbed Milk in March that is meant to take on Pandora, and executives hinted in March at the possibility that it could eventually replace Samsung’s Music Hub, a pay-per-song service that never came close to competing with iTunes.
We don’t really know yet what the new video service that Samsung is developing is going to look like. We also don’t know whether it will try to compete with Netflix or will focus on an ad-supported experience and be more like Sony’s Crackle. (I asked the company about its plans, but have yet to hear back, and will update this story if I get a comment.) But it’s likely that Samsung is looking to have it replace its existing Video Hub offering, which is currently being phased out and is not installed on the Galaxy S5 anymore.