My personal epiphany

The most recent outage report:

Monitoring - We identified a partial device connection outage at 7:08 CDT
today. Some users may have experienced difficulty with Hub events such
as pairing and controlling devices and SmartApps. Functionality has been
restored but we will continue to monitor.
May 23, 20:25 EDT

As long as something like this is even remotely possible, there is very little hope for real success of the platform. There’s just no acceptable excuse for some far off back-end problem affecting any of my devices from functioning correctly.

I see so much promise, yet so flawed an execution. I think the power and extensibility of the platform are some of it’s key features. I think the forced reliance on remote servers and processing (I’m not hip enough to say “cloud”) is it’s key liability.

Sorry, I’m sure this has all been said many times before. This is just my personal epiphany. It only took 6 months.

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You might look to something higher than the cloud if you cant live without perfection.


The primary purpose of the redesign of the hub from V1 to V2 is to significantly reduce “reliance” on the Cloud.

Unfortunately, even 10 months after the hardware release, SmartThings has not made much progress on actually having SmartApps reside and execute locally in this Hub.

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I think it comes down to what “remotely possible” means for your specific use case. And what the company has led you to expect.

For example, I pay a monthly fee for a monitored security system. It’s certainly “remotely possible” that it might fail, but I’ve had it for about 10 years and we’ve had only two false alarms in that time. That’s certainly acceptable for my particular needs.

On the other hand, since last November, I have yet to go 10 days without an impactful failure from SmartThings of some kind. For my own uses that makes it too unreliable for anything involving personal safety. I do use it for convenience cases like an alert if the guestroom window was left open when it’s going to rain.

So different people have different requirements for different use cases. I don’t expect anything to be perfect, but I do have varying levels of reliability requirements depending on the exact reason for deployment.

When SmartThings works as intended, it is my favorite home automation system, hands down. But right now, its primary value lies in versatility and openness, not reliability. Hopefully that will change in the future and they will be able to retain the versatility while improving the reliability.

For me personally, and again other people will be different, my expectations of home automation are that it will have an impactful failure no more than once or twice a year. So far, Phillips Hue, echo, Logitech Harmony, IFTTT, and HomeKit have all met that standard for me. And my security system, as I mentioned, does much better than that. But still none of them are perfect.



I think the reality is that home automation technologies such as SmartThings are not ready for prime time. Fantastic as hobby or project, but sadly NOT ready to be sold in retail stores alongside TVs, HiFi and even PCs.

The very thing that makes them possible is also their downfall. Without the cloud remote access would be more difficult and the hub would be a lot more expensive. The very openness of the platform that allows the integration of all the wonderful projects and ‘things’ is also its downfall.

I’m not giving up, I have just reset my expectations on what I can achieve and when I can achieve it. I am convinced the journey is worth it, I just hope Smartthings get there before Samsung decide their brand is suffering too much to continue.

Outside of these failures, something unfortunate must be going on inside the company. They’ve had this great forum but they fundamentally lack a positive connection with the user base. No roadmap or any hints as to new/cool things to come, to get users excited and keep them engaged. Even when their last update included a much requested feature (adding lumin conditional to Smart Lighting) there was no formal announcement. People had to discover it on their own.

Setting up these networks and programming them takes way to much time to be left with a feeling of disconnect/annoyance in the end. Maybe things were better in the past but I’ve only been around since V2 launched. I do feel, at this point. ST will either pull themselves together quickly or be reorganized by Samsung. They can’t keep limping along for much longer.

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