Samsung Milk Video
The Team: A group within Samsung, starting from the UX division, started a new project with the intent on getting Samsung more into the digital product space and not just hardware. One of these product forays was Samsung Milk Video. Our team was headed by head of product Scott Barrow, and head of engineering Bartley Cadler. I was introduced to the project by two UX designers already working on the project, and Milk Video quickly became my main focus at Samsung.
The Brief: Samsung had a plan to get into the digital product space and compete with popular media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and so on. The reasoning, I believe, was that while Samsung was doing well in Hardware, the space was competitive against Apple in the price point ahead of them, and the cheap Chinese phones beneath them. So, producing popular apps that are tied in with the Samsung phone as a potentially Samsung-exclusive bonus, could be a big value add and potentially another source of revenue for the hardware giant.
At first, Samsung Milk Video was not tied to Milk Music, which the name would suggest. Milk Music is a very popular streaming music service whose user base is mainly in South Korea because of Samsung’s dominance in that market. Instead, Milk Music started off with a codename, Volt. The name “Volt” meant to capture the brief, exciting moments of videos that the service hoped to deliver to users. The original group who envisioned the product wanted to aggregate popular viral videos from various video sources like YouTube and put them into a unique Samsung platform. They hoped to differentiate themselves with a faster experience where users get a diverse range of content instead of a narrow range of suggested videos like in YouTube. They also had the intention of making it a social platform that focused on trending and sharing videos. They had big plans for the platform, and I joined right at the very start of it.
My Role: This was essentially my first role as a “product designer” in the sense that I did everything related to digital product design: UX, interaction, visual design, branding, motion design, and engineering support. I also worked closely with the heads of product to strategize how we could make the product the best possible, how to grow our user base, and so on. I worked with other designers ranging from 2 others to myself to 3 other designers at one point. I started as basically an apprentice to the project, quickly grew to understand it, and then took over as the main designer as the other designers left to go back to their teams and work on other projects. At this point I worked closely with the head of product and even helped in hiring and growing our team.
Our Results: Shipped high-designed product on time and grew monthly active users to 500,000 within 4 months of launch. We analyzed user feedback in qualitative research sessions as well as quantitative user analytics to design and implement features to improve the service and improve user retention.
The product was highly successful in a short period of time and would have gone on to great heights had the corporate management allowed the project to continue. Unfortunately due to budget cuts and company reorg, Milk Video was cancelled only a few months after launch. I think that had our team been given more time and resources, we could have capitalized on the momentum we gained and captured the Android and Samsung audience on this fun and exciting video platform.