Samsung have purchased SmartThings, a company that is developing an open platform for connected devices in the home. The acquisition is significant, as it allows Samsung to compete against Google’s Nest and Apple’s HomeKit.
The money involved is notably high, with Samsung reported to have paid in the region of $200 million (€150m/£120m) for the purchase.
There is no industry-accepted standard when it comes to home automation, despite growing interest amongst consumers.
Google has turned Android into the default smartphone and tablet platform throughout much of the world. And just as Android heavily dominates mobile device market share, Samsung will want to achieve the same when it comes to connected devices in the home.
The extent to which Android is an open platform is the subject of much debate. But what is not in any doubt is the fact that manufacturers around the world are able to use Android without paying any licensing fees.
The widespread adoption of Android by global electronics manufacturers has helped it to become the all-dominant force that it is today. But crucially, it is Google that gets to dictate the standards that others in the industry are following.
An open platform for connected devices in the home could grow in a similar way. For example, it would be available free of charge to Samsung’s rivals in the refrigeration market, which would mean many different companies around the world marketing the platform – either directly or indirectly.
But whilst the likes of Bosch, AEG, Baumatic and Siemens would all be free to develop new refrigeration products based on Samsung’s technology, it would ultimately be the South Korean company that controlled the standards that its rivals were adopting.