Which is exactly where SmartThings is now. They just introduced a line of WiFi switches, but will probably build the Hub into more appliances, TVs, and the Bixby SmartSpeaker.
Samsung’s vision is for all “Samsung Stuff” to work seamlessly together (including auto-discovery), and, while they are at it, allow vendors to ride on top of the SmartThings Platform (including Cloud, and Device Plug-Ins within the App, and new arbitrarily complex SmartApps based on entirely new API and infrastructure requirements).
The market is still young enough for multiple concurrent directions and trends to co-exist: including what Wyze Labs is doing via cheap low-frequency sensors that plug into … cheap cameras; and including entry by IKEA, a company which is not known for electronics and appliances.
I gotta wonder how far back Amazon’s “smart home” intentions go; was this in mind at the time of the initial launch of the first Echo? If so, that’s pretty prescient; but not surprising.
I offer that Samsung is equally prescient. And that it will take a few more years before their goals and ongoing strategy becomes clear.
In the meantime, they are content with incrementally building out (and … “improving”) the Platform, with major developments repeatedly being delayed longer than expected. Will Bixby ever be a “contender”: Yes, quite likely - if they don’t frack it up. There’s no way the global market (of many languages) is only going to have 3 or 4 virtual assistant platforms (Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, and, ahem, Cortana). That’s like IBM & DEC saying they’d be the only computer makers.
The market has nowhere to go but grow. Global megacorps are the ones who can tough it out the longest. Who knows what new contenders will either surprisingly become dominant to the point of near ubiquity (Amazon Echo’s popularity must have surprised some people?), and who knows which companies will be acquired. But the majority of small players will either remain niche, or fail.
Let’s come back in a few years and see what happened to Brilliant as a random example. Their product isn’t revolutionary (it would have to be super cheap to start a revolution…), and their product isn’t so unique that it can’t be mimicked (already is, in various weak attempts): But they are decently funded, marketing heavily, attractive sounding, and I haven’t heard complaints about quality.
Samsung gives no indication they are thinking of throwing in the towel and being irrelevant. Small companies fail due to lack of resources. Large companies fail because of lack of commitment, focus, or … bad luck. Maybe SmartThings will be sold off - the Motorola story?
Whatever - SmartThings is currently relevant. Staying that way over time could remain an ongoing 50/50 bet, unless there is an unmistakable industry shift. And I don’t see that happening in 5 to 10 years.