Re/Code’s ever reliable Kara Swisher is reporting that Samsung just bought the smart home startup SmartThings for $US200 million. The news comes almost exactly one month after a rumour emerged that the Korean electronics company was making the move. But now that it’s made, things could get interesting.
SmartThings actually started out as a Kickstarter project that promised to make it easy for anyone to turn their home into a smart home. That’s a hell of a promise and one that several companies are very interested in fulfilling. The SmartThings model is particularly interesting, though, since the company sells kits that includes a router-like hub and a number of sensors. After a little bit of tinkering with a smartphone app, you can set up all sorts of home automation features with appliances that weren’t designed to be smart. Walt Mossberg, for one, thinks the whole system is pretty dang cool.
Enter Samsung. Obviously, the support of one of the world’s largest tech companies will help SmartThings scale, but owning a smart home platform will also help Samsung compete in an emerging market that their biggest competitors already have a foothold in. Google, of course, bought Nest so that it could build an operating system for your home, while Apple recently announced HomeKit which would make the iPhone a remote control for your life. Now Samsung has SmartThings, a comparable however altogether unique company that’s after the same thing.
On a nerdier note, SmartThings is a relatively open platform, while Samsung traditionally isn’t. Whether or not this acquisition represents a departure from the old ways of doing things at Samsung remains to be seen, but it will be fascinating to see where the giant corporation takes its new pet startup. The fact that Samsung already manufactures a number of connected devices for the home means we might see some action sooner rather than later. [Re/Code]