Samsung Electronics has made a move into the growing ‘connected home’ space with the purchase of SmartThings – a US-based developer of a home automation platform – for a reported $200 million.
Using a single Android/iOS app, the company’s $99 smart-home controller allows users to monitor, control and customise their connected devices.
SmartThings, which began as a Kickstarter project two years ago and has raised some $15 million in funding, is led by CEO and founder Alex Hawkinson.
Hawkinson said in a blog on the SmartThings website that it will continue to operate as an independent company within Samsung’s Open Innovation Centre group in Palo Alto, California. This means the company’s team of 55 employees working in three locations in the US will relocate to the new headquarters.
Hawkinson said: “We believe there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung’s global scale to help us realise our long-term vision. 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.”
Of course, Samsung already makes a variety of home appliances like TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, washers and dryers. However, these have limited connectivity with each other and the SmartThings acquisition will enable it to strengthen its home automation capabilities.
The move comes after Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest, a maker of ‘smart’ thermostats and smoke alarms, and Dropcam, a supplier of Wi-Fi monitoring cameras, as well as Apple’s launch of HomeKit, which will allow third-party gadgets to be controlled with iOS hardware.
A report from Strategy Analytics this week claimed spending on smart home systems and services in the US will hit $18 billion in 2014 and more than double to $39 billion by 2019. It said that Apple, Google and Samsung are among the big consumer brands posturing for position in the market as ADT, Vivint, Comcast and AT&T drive growth in the interactive security market.
SmartThings aims to differentiate itself “by creating an open platform for 3rd-party apps/services”; founder/CEO Hawkinson claims SmartThings supports more than one thousand devices and more than eight thousand apps.