“As president of Samsung I am making a promise: our IoT components and devices will be open”, declared BK Yoon, CEO and president of Samsung Electronics. “The Internet of Things needs an open ecosystem”.
He was speaking to a packed keynote audience at CES tonight. The head of the planet’s dominant consumer electronics company remarks put him squarely on the side of open standards and freedom of access on the Internet.
Samsung will need easy and open access if it’s going to meet the goals Yoon laid out tonight: by 2017, 90% of Samsung Electronics – and all of its phones and televisions – will be IoT enabled, and within 5 years all products, across all lines, will be.
Yoon said that he’s heard many people in the industry say that the IoT should run on a common operating system. The problem, though, is that when other companies put a standard forward, “it only works with only their technology”.
He highlighted Samsung’s role in developing SmartThings, one of the IoT OS contenders, saying that he got involved only on the condition that the result will be an open standard. Yoon also made a commitment to support the development community, saying Samsung was going to expand its developer outreach program and spend more on it, above even last year’s $100 million.
“The technology to make it happen is real, the Internet of Things is ready to go”, he said. The prime benefits will be “personal safety and consumer convenience”. But “the Internet of Things must be secure. Security must be baked into the hardware and software at every level.”
Yoon’s vision comes down to cooperation, not just between companies but across entire industries. “We all have to work together”.
Another thing for the Internet of things.
Samsung has decided to take a different home automation route than Apple or Google. The announcement this week that it is acquiring SmartThings gives a hint that the Korean consumer electronic giant is looking, first and foremost, at creating an automation platform for its own vast array of products, rather than a web service business built around its smart phones. It might eventually do that too, but the decision to go with SmartThings, which relies on an in-home hub, shows a definite hardware-centric attitude.
That’s not to say Samsung isn’t interested in connecting products made by its competitors. According to a blog post by SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson…
While we will remain operationally independent, joining forces with Samsung will enable us to support all of the leading smartphone vendors, devices, and applications; expand our base of developers and enhance the tools and programs that they rely on; and help many more people around the world easily control and monitor their homes using SmartThings.
But the top priority is no doubt leveraging Samsung’s appliance and consumer electronics strength to create a unified and seamless home automation experience with its own products. It fits: Samsung is a hardware manufacturer and not a web services company. So it’s substituting a gadget for the powerful online platforms that Apple and, particularly, Google boast. Instead of having to provision a web service that supports a bazillion different products, Samsung only has to, at most, maintain a single point of contact per home.
Another advantage of a dedicated hub is that the products themselves don’t need extensive, and relatively expensive, networking or processing capability, rather just enough connectivity to get to the hub and respond to its commands. It makes it cheaper for consumers that own a lot of networkable Samsung products, and easier for Samsung engineers to build that capability into different devices quickly.