Samsung To Buy IoT Startup SmartThings

The 2-year-old SmartThings is creating an open platform for the IoT that already supports more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps.

Internet of things

Samsung is making a stronger push into the burgeoning Internet of things space with the planned acquisition of SmartThings, a 2-year-old startup that has created an open platform for the smart home.

Samsung is paying a reported $200 million for SmartThings, which will run independently as part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center (OIC). SmartThings will move its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Palo Alto, Calif., as part of the deal.

SmartThings, which began as a Kickstarter project, has created a mobile app for smartphones and tablets that gives users the capability to monitor what is going on in their homes, review what has happened there in the past, control such connected devices as locks, lights, appliances and electronics, and customize how those devices work. It also works with a range of partners, and its open IoT platform works with devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems. The platform supports more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps that have been created by developers and device makers.

For Samsung, the acquisition will give the company another avenue into the Internet of things (IoT), which promises to ramp up over the coming years as more intelligence is put into devices and systems that will be connected to the Internet and each other.

Cisco Systems officials said that, by 2020, there will be some 50 billion connected devices worldwide—from smartphones and tablets to cars, appliances, manufacturing systems, health care devices and security sensors—communicating with each other and swapping data. IDC analysts believe that revenues from IoT will reach $7.1 trillion by the end of the decade; Cisco believes that the financial boon to businesses from IoT will reach $19 trillion.

Samsung already offers a range of connected devices, from smart TVs to wearables and is active in such industry consortiums as The Thread Group—which it founded with ARM and Google's Nest business—and the Open Internet Consortium, founded by Samsung along with the likes of Dell and Intel.

At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in January, company officials introduced the Samsung Smart Home service, which enables all the connected devices in a home to be connected via a single platform.

Other vendors also are making a strong push into the space, including Google with its recent acquisition of Nest Labs, which makes such programmable devices as thermostats and smoke detectors—and Apple, which is looking to turn the iPhone into a remote control device for the home.

Samsung, Google and others also are making pushes into the wearable device space, a key part of the IoT.