Samsung Buys IoT Firm SmartThings For Home Automation

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Samsung follows Google and Apple into the smart-home market with SmartThings purchase

Samsung has acquired smart-home and Internet of Things (IoT) firm SmartThings, whose CEO Alex Hawkinson confirmed reports last month that the two firms were close to a deal.

The open SmartThings platform has proven to be popular with smart-home developers. Its smartphone app runs on iOS and Android, and allows a user to remotely monitor, control and customise their heating systems, lights, and even door locks, via the $99 SmartThings hub.

“Today is a big day for SmartThings,” wrote Hawkinson. “I’m excited to announce that SmartThings has been acquired by Samsung and will operate as an independent company within Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group. It has always been our goal to create a totally open smart home platform that brings together third-party developers, device makers, and consumers,” he added. “We’re thrilled that Samsung fully supports this vision.”

Internet Of Things

The acquisition of gives Samsung a valuable entry into the smart-home and IoT market. The South Korean electronics giant is already a very large player in the home-appliance market, making everything from fridges, washing machines, to dishwashers, and smart televisions. Samsung has a heavy-weight marketing budget, which coupled with its home appliance presence, could result in it rapidly becoming a serious player in the emerging IoT sector. Last month Samsung joined the ‘Open Interconnect Consortium’, a group looking to drive the connectivity and interoperability of IoT-enabled devices.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but TechCrunch has previously reported that the price was around the $200m (£120m) mark. It is understood that SmartThings boss Hawkinson remain with the company, and the company headquarters will move from Washington DC, out to California.

“We will continue to run SmartThings the way we always have: by embracing our community of customers, developers, and device makers and championing the creation of the leading open platform for the smart home,” wrote Hawkinson. “Our growing team will remain fully intact and will relocate to a new headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. In short: SmartThings will remain SmartThings.”

Hawkinson also thanked its institutional investors, as well as those who helped the startup raise $1.2m (£700m) on Kickstarter in 2012.

Future Battleground

The Samsung acquisition comes at an interesting time, with smart homes shaping up as a potential future battleground after a number of big name tech vendors entered the market.

Google for example acquired intelligent home electronics developer Nest Labs earlier in the year. Apple likewise is exploring the smart-home market, having announced its HomeKit protocol in June.

Microsoft meanwhile has been involved in the smart home sector ever since Bill Gates built his ‘smart mansion’ in Washington-state many years ago. Bill Gates designed his house so that guests wear pins, and the house automatically adjusts temperature, music, and lighting based on their preferences when they enter a room.

More recently, Redmond signed a partnership deal with home automation specialist Insteon.

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