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Samsung slurps Internet of Home Stuff upstart SmartThings

Korean chaebol nabs home automation platform for rumoured $200m

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Samsung is all set to slurp home automation platform SmartThings in another manoeuvre to prime the firm for the Internet of Stuff – if it should ever arrive.

SmartThings is a platform that connects a range of consumer IoT devices for the house together into a smartphone app that works on iOS and Android.

The company is a smart buy for Sammy if it wants to compete with Apple’s HomeKit and Google’s Nest, while also working with the latter as an existing partner in mobes and staying open to other developers and manufacturers. The SmartThings app is an open platform that allows device-makers and developers to add their own products to the mix.

Samsung didn’t say how much it was laying out for SmartThings in its announcement, but a report last month on TechCrunch said that the firm was in talks to buy the platform for more than $200m. The startup home platform, formed just two years ago, will continue to run independently as part of Sammy’s Open Innovation Centre, the firms said.

“SmartThings has created a remarkable universe of partners and developers and now has the most engagement of any smart home platform in the world,” said David Eun, head of the OIC, in a canned statement.

“Connected devices have long been strategically important to Samsung and, like Alex and his team, we want to improve the convenience and services in people’s lives by giving their devices and appliances a voice so they can interact more easily with them. We are committed to maintaining SmartThings’ open platform, fostering more explosive growth, and becoming its newest strategic partner.”

SmartThings chief Alex Hawkinson said that Samsung would help the firm to attract more folks to the platform, which is no doubt true given the whopping marketing budget the Korean chaebol is able to bring to bear on its products.

Samsung has a number of irons in the IoT fire, including its own operating system Tizen. At the Linux-based project’s developer conference earlier this summer, manager Brian Warner talked about how Tizen could be a “common platform for all manner of devices”. However, it won’t be easy for Tizen to make a mark at this late stage in the game, after knocking around for years without doing much of anything.

Sammy has stuck the system in as an option for its Galaxy Gear smartwatch wearable and is also supposed to be releasing the first smartphone running the OS, although the Samsung Z launch keeps getting postponed.

Whether Samsung will be looking to integrate SmartThings with Tizen or vice versa remains to be seen. El Reg did ask Samsung to elucidate on this point, but Andy Griffiths, president of Sammy UK and Ireland, would only tell us that the firm was interested in lots of things on the internet.

“For some time Samsung has been investing in a number of new devices and appliances that can talk to each other over the internet," he said, rather vaguely. "The acquisition of SmartThings is an exciting development in our journey to help people live better, worry less and be smarter with the resources that are used.

“We have great plans to enhance more and more parts of the home experience, especially with a view of expanding it to areas with high growth potential such as home safety and energy management,” he added. ®

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