Samsung acquires SmartThings and embraces IoT

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Samsung acquires SmartThings and embraces IoT

Samsung Electronics said yesterday that it has acquired SmartThings, the smart-home service developer based in the United States.

The acquisition, which is reported to be worth $200 million, is seen as part of efforts by the world’s largest smartphone maker to move past the challenges it faces amid deteriorating profits and break into the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) sector.

SmartThings, a company established in 2012 by Alex Hawkinson, a leading expert in IoT, allows users to monitor, control and automate their home devices remotely through a mobile application. The platform connects more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps.

“We are happy to be part of Samsung Electronics,” Hawkinson said. “We will further innovate the world and cooperate with more developers with the support of Samsung Electronics.”

IoT refers to the concept in which items, including home electronics, cars and buildings, as well as wearable devices, like smartwatches, and smartphones, may be connected and controlled via the Internet.

Samsung has already chosen IoT as a primary solution for its rapidly deteriorating smartphone performance in the hopes that it will serve as a new source of revenue.

Yet industry observers say despite its troubles, the company could find success in the IoT industry, as it is well equipped with the necessary competitive infrastructure - smartphones, wearable devices and various home electronics - and because the IoT market is still young.

Samsung also participates in a consortium led by Intel to develop standards and certification for devices used in IoT. Another consortium called Thread Group includes Samsung, Google and British technology company ARM, and aims to develop a new wireless networking protocol for IoT.

The smartphone maker is also planning to launch the Open Interconnect consortium in September together with foreign IT companies including Dell, Intel and Atmel.

The consortium will define a common operating system based on industry-standard technology so that the sharing of a wireless network and information among devices may be possible even if users’ service providers and operating systems differ.

Next, Korea’s flagship smartphone manufacturer is expected to compete with Google and Apple over smart-home technology at the upcoming IFA 2014 electronics show, slated to be held on Sept. 5 in Berlin.

Google recently bought the smart-home company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, while Apple announced in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference that the company is entering the smart-home market with its release of the HomeKit platform, which allows consumers to control their home electronics with an iPhone.

“Connected devices are strategically important for Samsung Electronics,” said David Eun, the executive vice president of the Open Innovation Center at Samsung Electronics. “We will continuously support SmartThings to grow while maintaining the open platform.”


BY KIM JUNG-YOON, LEE SO-AH [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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