Samsung Pushes Open IoT with SmartThings Buy

Samsung has just made a play for a bigger stake in the Internet of Things. It plans to buy SmartThings’ open platform for monitoring, controlling and automating homes from a single device.

The deal, which was announced late last week, will see Samsung buying SmartThings — reportedly for the relative pittance of $200 million — which will then operated as an independent entity under its founder and CEO, Alex Hawkinson.

Flexing its Muscles

It will also give Samsung a lot more muscle in a market that has to date been dominated by the likes of Apple and Google, with other contenders like Microsoft slowly starting to wake up and make a serious play for market share.

Founded in 2012, SmartThings developed an open platform that enables users to monitor devices in their home from a mobile device. Over the past two years, it added a number of new partners like Philips and Belkin to the platform, too.

As of today, it supports more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps and works with both Android and iOS devices, which you’d think is a pretty big deal, right? Certainly, Alex Hawkinson thinks so. In a post on the SmartThings website, he stated

We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung’s global scale to help us realize our long-term vision. While we will remain operationally independent, joining forces with Samsung will enable us to support all of the leading smartphone vendors, devices, and applications, expand our base of developers and enhance the tools and programs that they rely on, and help many more people around the world easily control and monitor their homes using SmartThings."

Everyone Happy?

However, some of its users don’t seem all that convinced it’s such a good thing. In response to the news one user commented :

Given my experiences with Samsung devices, this would have kept me from purchasing a kit if I had known about this two weeks ago. Very disappointed.

Another user said:

This sucks. Makes me regret buying SmartThings and wish I would've bought another device. Just waiting for Samsung to stop allowing improvements for Apple devices, then taking my SmartThings to the local Goodwill. So much for getting HomeKit support.

For his part, Hawkinson replied :

… from me to you, we are 100 percent open and there will be no slowdown in support for iOS, our plans for HomeKit and so much more. Can't wait to show you what is coming. Stay with us and let me know what you think just a few months from now.

He also insisted that SmarterThings would continue to operate independently and that it would continue to develop the functionality and abilities that attracted people to it in the first place.

Once the deal is closed, which is expected to happen in the coming days, SmartThings will work as an independent unit in Samsung's Open Innovation Center (OIC).

OIC brings software and services innovation to Samsung Electronics by working with technology startups and entrepreneurs through investments, acquisitions, partnerships The Samsung Accelerator and has US offices in New York, and the strategically important Palo Alto in California.

IoT in the Home

The acquisition of SmartThings also underlines the growing competition in the consumer IoT space, especially in devices for smart homes.

This year alone, Google spent $3.2 billion to buy Nest Labs , the maker of the Learning Thermostat and the Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

In June, Apple added new IoT functionality to its upcoming release of iOS 8, through the HomeKit software platform that will integrate control for door locking, light dimming and other home automation gadgets.

Last week, Microsoft, which has been a bit slower off the mark in terms of IoT development, announced a list of ten companies that it has pulled into its IoT accelerator program, who will demonstrate their IoT developments — largely smart home devices — in December.