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Samsung snaps up smart home startup

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 12:17pm
Brian Santo

Samsung Electronics has purchased SmartThings, a start-up that makes a residential hub for connecting smart home appliances, along with small line of such products.

Neither company revealed a purchase price. Several media outlets put the tag at about $200 million.

SmartThings was started in 2012 with money raised on Kickstarter. In addition to the $99 hub, the company’s line of sensors and monitors include flooding sensors ($99 for a pair), a set of motion sensors ($150), automated switchers and dimmers for lighting (about $90 for two of either), and remote controlled outlets that nearly any type of electrical/electronic device can be plugged into ($99 for a pair). The company currently sells direct through its web site and through Amazon.

SmartThings has an open platform, however, and the company claims the universe of compatible products includes more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps.

Competitors include Google, which acquired Nest for $3.2 billion this year, and Apple, which in June introduced HomeKit, a set of software tools to that allow iPhones users to control smart home networks.

Some of SmartThings’ most prominent competitors are ISPs, such as AT&T and Comcast, who charge a recurring monthly fee to support connectivity. SmartThings has no such fee.

SmartThing customers download a free app (Apple iOS or Android) with which they control all SmartThings products.

The company will continue to operate independently under founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson, and will become part of the Samsung Open Innovation Center (OIC), which is responsible for bringing software and services innovation to Samsung Electronics. SmartThings will move its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Palo Alto, CA, Samsung said.

“SmartThings has created a remarkable universe of partners and developers and now has the most engagement of any smart home platform in the world,” said David Eun, Head of the OIC. “Connected devices have long been strategically important to Samsung and, like Alex and his team, we want to improve the convenience and services in people’s lives by giving their devices and appliances a voice so they can interact more easily with them. We are committed to maintaining SmartThings’ open platform, fostering more explosive growth, and becoming its newest strategic partner.”

Plug and control power outlets

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