Multi-industry giant Samsung took to the stage at its recent Samsung Developer Conference to announce SmartThings Cloud, a new breed of centralized Internet of Things control that's poised to open up the company's IoT offerings to almost all consumers. Built upon the current, mostly Samsung-only iteration of the SmartThings control hub and accompanying framework and mobile app, SmartThings Cloud takes IoT control to a new level by including a massive range of products from other manufacturers and across product generations. The new standard uses cellular technology as opposed to something Wi-Fi based or proprietary, and is aimed at giving users maximum control over their digital lives from a single point of contact.
SmartThings Cloud, much like Bixby 2.0, is all about taking an existing Samsung product meant to draw users into Samsung's ecosystem, and instead having it work for users no matter what brands they buy. On that note, it shares another similarity with Bixby 2.0; an open software development kit. According to Samsung's official press release, software and hardware partners in the IoT space, including some that have been around since the first generation of SmartThings, are already using the SmartThings Cloud SDK to create products that will be fully compatible with the new standard. While it was possible to use the SmartThings architecture, framework, and end-user tools with non-Samsung products, the ecosystem itself was not open to everybody, and close partnerships with Samsung were the price of entry for IoT companies wanting to get their products on board. This meant close integration with SmartThings, which took work and, for the most part, excluded products from compatibility with competing systems. SmartThings Cloud is not locked down in such ways.
SmartThings Cloud is part of a dearth of announcements coming from the Samsung Developer Conference that indicate a shift away from the company's previous focus on incentivizing users to commit fully to the company's ecosystem, in a similar way to Sony or Apple. Rather than forcing customers to choose between filling their homes with Samsung products or losing out on features, Samsung is instead working toward making its software, and thus its presence, ubiquitous, making the company somewhat more Google-like in its nature of operation and its manifestation in customers' lives.