Samsung has taken the opportunity presented by its CES 2019 press conference to highlight the importance of unifying what it calls the 'Intelligence of Things' as the driving force behind its latest technologies and achievements. Among its achievements in recent months, one key vector of growth for the Korean tech giant has been with regard to its SmartThings Cloud and associated SmartThings app. Samsung announced an update to the platform back in late 2017 at its Samsung Developer Conference (SDC), bringing together a variety of devices from dozens of partners, including Google, Amazon, Boze, Sylvania, and Plume, under a single IoT control hub. The number of partners has grown by 44-percent since those changes began to be implemented in 2018 while app installs have increased by as much as 61-percent. The total number of registered users has grown at a much higher rate -- 220-percent -- over that same period.
On AI, Samsung has taken a similar approach but points more directly to its work investing in both the talent and ideas behind the technology. The company's philosophy is hinged on the concept of using the extremely complex machine learning, vision, and other aspects associated with AI to make the world a simpler place. That has included the launch of no fewer than seven Global AI centers, as well as continued investment in its Samsung NEXT initiative and Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center. As of CES 2019, the company says it has invested in more than 20 AI-related startups over the past half-decade with the apparent underlying goal of pushing AI up to and beyond its current limitations.
Accelerated growth and a more open approach
Samsung's growth in the IoT segment of the technology market has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the company. Samsung also went on to unveil further changes to SmartThings at last year's SDC 2018 in November, expanding its efforts to include a new update to its "Works With SmartThings" certification program. Central to the changes was the introduction of new tools intended to accelerate adoption of the SmartThings platform by making developing for the IoT ecosystem using the SmartThings Developer Workspace easier than ever. Specifically, Samsung announced a new SmartThings Cloud Connector, Device Kit, and Hub Connector, taking developers from start to finish not just for SmartThings but also for Zigbee and Z-Wave devices.
Taking advantage of the momentum, Samsung also unveiled a brand new Bixby and tools for working with the AI platform at SDC 2018. The central tenant of the new tools is focused on letting users do what they 'want to do' instead of learning how to use AI in a more formulated manner and Samsung is addressed that by unleashing its own development teams' tools to developers. Alongside that announcement, it revealed plans to not only launch Bixby Marketplace as a channel for third-party developers to market their Bixby creations. Samsung also announced plans to hire as many as 1,000 AI experts by 2020, alongside a $22 billion investment in the technology. Taking matters further still, by the end of that timeframe it will be incorporating its newest Bixby AI into all of its products -- which shipped at around 500 million units per year as of that announcement. That new, more open approach to AI is evidenced by this year's announcement at CES 2019 that it would be including support for Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa in this year's Samsung televisions.
5G and investing in a more connected future
Samsung hasn't slacked on 5G either. As the number one patent holder in the ETSI, with more than 2,000 related claims at last count in November, it's no surprise that it will be among the first to launch a 5G device in 2019. At least one of those has long been expected to be a variant of the Samsung's Galaxy S10 but the company's endeavors haven't solely been in releasing mobile devices. It has also worked with the top carriers in the US and South Korea to ensure that the technology is ready via testing in pursuit of commercialization. Those almost certainly helped the company ensure that its devices were ready quickly, a fact attested to by its position as the first OEM to receive approval from the FCC in terms of commercializing next-generation network devices. It also enabled carriers to move forward more quickly, with 5G rollouts set to begin more widely as of this year.
5G is expected to serve not only handsets but also home internet connections, a broader and more advanced IoT, and more. AI will benefit from 5G too, due to faster connectivity with lower latency, providing access to more intensive cloud and edge computing as well as more data for analysis at a higher rate. That will make it a useful tool for any company working in the segments of the industry noted by Samsung. But it's not unlikely to prove more helpful to the Korean tech giant itself thanks to its newfound focus on bringing each of the technologies in question under a single cohesive ecosystem.