Our world is fast sweeping under the purview of the fourth industrial revolution. After phones, all other consumer durables are getting smarter and connected, changing the way we interact with our surrounding, and the way we live and work.
These changes are also forcing industries to realign every aspect of their business. Players who timely adopt and integrate technology to securely harness consumer data will enjoy a substantial head start, while others will find it increasingly difficult to catch up – the same way it was when our phones got smart a decade or so ago.
Analyzing the current state of affairs, Samsung is one player that should reap an early mover advantage in IoT space.
Elaborate IoT software
The South-Korean behemoth has been steadily perfecting basics, including its IoT software (Tizen) – which is really good as far as smart appliances go.
Samsung’s SmartThings is also one of the most familiar terms in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain today. It’s a thread that weaves through all Samsung and several third-party smart home devices and hooks them to SmartThings Cloud. Using the SmartThings app, you can efficiently design and manage your Smart Home experience.
Samsung has also nurtured its smart voice Assitant, Bixby, along the way. I know, Bixby is far from perfect and has some catching up to do, but there are a few things it does better than its adversaries. It’s particularly good at understanding natural language and complex instructions, its deeply integrated with Samsung’s and other popular apps, and understands device settings of Samsung products remarkably well.
We personally find it a lot more convenient to directly ask Bixby to change phone settings (like changing display color profile, turning on Bluelight filter, etc.) instead of looking up options through settings or quick settings. And of course, you can set your own quick commands for specific actions.
As of today, Samsung’s IoT product range in India includes the Family Hub (refrigerator), QLED (television), FlexWash machine (washing machine), and its Galaxy smartphones. Many others should soon join this list. All of these products are seamlessly connected and smart enough to talk to each other.
The Family Hub Refrigerator has a 21.5-inch touchscreen and can also be used to interact with other Smart Home devices. Consumers can remotely check what’s in their fridge, leave notes, and surf the internet using simple voice commands.
The Flex Wash is a 23KG capacity smart washer-dryer that users can control and monitor directly from their phones.
Samsung’s QLED TVs, on the other hand, offer premium experience and can share their gorgeous screens with other IoT devices for applications like screen mirroring, notification alerts, etc.
All these Samsung IoT products that we have talked about thus far come at high-end prices. That, however, shouldn’t necessarily be the case moving forward. The new range of Samsung UHD QLED Smart TVs starts at just Rs 41,990. These include numerous smart features like Live Cast (that lets you live cast anything to your TV screen from anywhere), lag-free Game streaming, and Tune Station (that lets you convert your TV into a music station).
Of course, Samsung won’t go unchallenged in the IoT space. The biggest challenger will be Google’s Android Things that launched last year, an IoT software that Google will license to other consumer appliance makers. While Google has sound software expertise, we don’t see it venturing into manufacturing home appliances.
If Android Wear experience is anything to go by, Google might not be able to simply leverage its smart software and data reserves to overcome IoT hurdles. Moreover, Android Things won’t be open source as Android on phones, and Google will have a say in the hardware that goes in – which is to say, OEMs might be reluctant to adopt it.
Then there’s Alexa Smart Home device ecosystem that’s a mix of smart products and other accessories that add Alexa smarts to other third-party devices.
Apple HomeKit is another secure software framework that aims to bring together different Smart Home devices under one banner.
Samsung, however, will have a few things working in its favor. The advantage of a complete ecosystem and years of manufacturing smart devices will allow Samsung to tune its software better for specific appliances and for upcoming changes and new innovations.
How things play out in the next couple of years will be crucial to determining who gets a comfortable lead in the Smart Home ecosystem – the kind that iOS and Android enjoy on Smartphones these days.