Samsung introduces the SmartThings-branded security camera
Source: Elvina Yang
Diving deeper into the smart home market, Samsung has a new strategy with its SmartThings brand - launching affordable home devices that are capable of working either with or without a SmartThings hub.
The South Korean company has debuted the US$89.99 SmartThings Cam, US$17.99 SmartThings Wifi Smart Plug and US$9.99 SmartThings Smart Bulb, expanding its smart home product portfolio under the SmartThings brand.
Competitive against Amazon, Google Nest
Those three products are both price and feature competitive in the current market.
The SmartThings Cam is a cheaper alternative than Google Nest Cam, Arlo or Amazon's Cloud Cam, while still offering full HD video with HDR, IR for night vision, two-way audio communication, person detection and a 145-degree field of view. It also provides 24-hour cloud backup for four cameras without any extra charge (backup for eight cameras requires subscription costing US$7.99 per month).
Samsung has worked on integration for their new products, videos that are streamed from the SmartThings Cam can be viewed on the SmartThings mobile app, Samsung TV and one of its FamilyHub refrigerators. All three devices support voice control with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung's Bixby.
The smart light bulb and smart plug are considered standard devices in the smart-home market. However, the Wi-Fi smart plug has shown that Samsung is willing to add new elements to their devices by going beyond Zigbee communication protocols and towards Wi-Fi connection.
Samsung's brand aimed for the end-user
Samsung's SmartThings platform was positioned as a central hub that gives end-users the ability to interconnect various smart home devices from different brands, manage them and build automation orders with them. SmartThings is the center of Samsung's IoT ambition, a platform that connects its existing home appliances such as smart TVs and other devices like a smart light bulb by Philips Hue.
With the recent launch, however, the company is taking one step forward in their tactical approach - to form a self-branded smart home platform like what Amazon and Google Nest are doing.
Starting with Alexa, a voice assistant, and Echo a smart speaker device that has been successfully transformed into a smart home hub, Amazon has formed a big ecosystem in the smart home market with later launches of Amazon-branded home devices like Cloud Cam and smart plugs. It has also acquired smart home brand Ring and incorporated their smart cameras, home security systems and smart doorbells into Amazon's smart home portfolio.
Alternatively, Google Nest has gradually established a branded platform which offers the voice assistant, smart speaker, smart thermostat, smart doorbell, security cameras and security home systems.
Although both Google Nest and Amazon platforms support devices from other brands, end-users with less knowledge of smart home products might be more likely to go for the same Google Nest and Amazon brands. End-users who've had a great first impression from using the products are less likely to research for other possibilities. That's also Samsung's aim, in order to compete with these well-known brands in the smart home market.
"The new SmartThings device announcements from Samsung are a good sign for consumers," said Blake Kozak, Senior Principal Analyst, Smart Home, Appliances and Security Technology at IHS Markit.
"First because the starting price point for the camera, light bulb and plug are all below the competition. Second, despite continued talk of interoperability, most smart home companies are expanding their portfolios which will mean a better user experience and possibly even a more secure and private experience since data can be controlled and managed in-house.”
Samsung said it is still committed to support third-party partner devices on SmartThings. Currently, the platform works with over 600 compatible devices from 60 different companies, and a home Wi-Fi router with SmartThings hub capability has been introduced.