Samsung over the past couple of years has pursued its ambitions around the Internet of things aggressively, from buying companies and building out its developer program to rolling out its Artik platform, helping launch standards groups and ensuring all its products will be IoT-enabled within five years.
Now the company wants to grow its presence in the IoT market in the United States, pledging to spend $1.2 billion over the next four years on R&D and investments in the country. The investment was announced June 21 during an IoT-focused forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by Samsung. At the event, titled, "Internet of Things: Transforming the Future," Samsung Vice Chairman and CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon reiterated the importance of the IoT to the company's future and the need to ensure that efforts around the IoT remain focused on helping people improve their lives.
"A human-centered approach is at Samsung's core," Kwon said in his prepared remarks. "What do we mean by this? Simply, technology must be designed with people at its core. If it does not improve a person’s life, they will not adopt it. And to bring IoT to scale, it must be useful and improve lives across all of society. A human-centered approach also means that technology for people must come from people; not just from Silicon Valley or Seoul, but from everywhere. So we must be open to innovation from all corners."
To Samsung, "IoT means bringing the physical and digital world together to improve quality of life. People must be at the center of everything we do if we want to realize IoT's full potential."
The CEO noted that the IoT is already having an impact on people in their homes and at work, making their lives more efficient and giving them more time to spend with family and friends. However, it can have a deeper impact on people in such areas as health care, energy and public policy.
"Today, IoT is changing individual lives," Kwon said. "But tomorrow, using IoT … we can keep people out of hospitals and nursing homes. As our populations live longer, these benefits—and cost savings for society—cannot be ignored. And health care is just one example."
The Internet of things is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. Cisco Systems and Intel are expecting the number of connected devices, systems and sensors worldwide to grow to more than 50 billion by 2020, and Cisco officials have said the IoT could have a global economic impact of $19 trillion.
Samsung and most other tech vendors are pushing hard to make inroads into the market, from making the devices and the infrastructure to support them to the software that will analyze the massive amounts of data these systems will generate. In 2014 Samsung bought IoT startup SmartThings and helped establish the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) to help create connectivity standards for the IoT.
Last year, company officials said Samsung will spend $100 million in an IoT developer program, and noted that in 2014, the company sold more than IoT-related 665 million products, including software and devices. By 2017, all Samsung televisions will be connected, the company said, and within five years, all of the company's hardware will be IoT-enabled.
This year, Samsung launched its Artik Cloud platform for managing IoT data and bought cloud infrastructure vendor Joyent for $126 million.
During his talk, Samsung's CEO also discussed the need for openness and collaboration. The Artik platform and SmartThings technologies are compatible with products from other vendors.
"We know that boundaries around technologies hold back innovation and scale," Kwon said. "And innovation flourishes when the brightest minds can come together. Which brings me to collaboration. A collaborative approach will be vital to realizing IoT's vast opportunities—and addressing the challenges of bringing it to scale. That means bringing together all sectors to be open—through voluntary standards–and by opening up more wireless spectrum."
In the same vein, he announced that Samsung is partnering with Intel and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) to create what he called the National IoT Strategy Dialogue to help create industry recommendations for a national IoT strategy that can be shared with U.S. policymakers.