This week HARMAN announced it has entered into a strategic collaboration with Samsung SmartThings. This is being advertised as an “engineering partnership” which in no small part is designed to rapidly expand, and improve on the SmartThings ecosystem, and is specifically focused on the working relationship between the SmartThings R&D team and HARMAN Connected Services (HCS).
In particular, the announcement draws on four specific goals of the partnership. These breakdown to include readying for market and deploying future versions of the SmartThings app, the integration of third-party sensors with the SmartThings ecosystem, and improving the features available through the SmartThings Cloud. The fourth goal is more of an all-encompassing goal as it is defined as working together to identify and develop “roadmap features for hub, core and embedded components.” Of course, while this a collaboration between two distinct companies, HARMAN and SmartThings, both of these companies are now owned by Samsung, following Samsung's acquisition of HARMAN - first announced back in 2016. So this is more of the case of Samsung drawing on the expertise of one of its investments to help improve on another. The announcement even draws on this point by directly referencing HARMAN’s increased involvement with Samsung products and services in general, as well as noting this latest move highlights how that “successful relationship” is continuing going forward.
Reading between the lines and it seems highly likely this announcement is in-part looking to ensure SmartThings (as a service and product) keeps up with the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. As while SmartThings is highly compatible with Samsung products, as well as a fairly substantial list of third-party products, and a significant level of adoption - for example, this announcement details the SmartThings cloud currently connects to more than ten million devices with the platform now resident in more than one million homes - Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant have lately significantly upped their Internet of Things (IoT) ambitions and device compatibility. Samsung will likely therefore be keen on ensuing SmartThings maintains a level of relevancy outside of its compatibility with the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant, and is turning to HARMAN to help achieve this.