On the verge of returning (not so) Smart Things

Here’s the deal:
A large number of SmartThings’s customers use “custom” integrations only because “official” ones are not supported; even some that are implied as supported.

With a better rule-builder instead of ad hoc SmartApps, a large proportion of Customers would never need a “custom SmartApp”.

As for unofficial device types, a large proportion of Customers could use an alternate device type if a more stable platform would result.

In other words: For a competitor to be viable, they may not need to be “equally open” as SmartThings, nor must they sacrifice all stability to be “somewhat open”. This is not an absolute compromise.

Indeed – SmartThings is aware of the risks of openness, but here is perhaps an example of the weakness some pillar of the (legacy?) foundation / architecture. A good platform (e.g., a good operating system … iOS vs. Android, perhaps?) can be stable and open to some amount of customization).

In the case of iOS, perhaps it is officially limited to what is approved through the Apple Store.

I think SmartThings is leaning in that direction. But I’m not yet convinced that restricting customization will significantly improve platform stability or fix other company management issues.

OK, but why are we all not seeing these problems? Who does it seem to be limited to small set of users? I can see that in a overloaded resource situation…

Actively posting Community members are a small fraction of all Customers. The fact that tech support is, by their own admission, overwhelmed, confirms that the product has far too many problems, even if some are relatively basic and resolvable questions.

Perhaps there is an “optimal” user of SmartThings: Patient and clever enough to tune their own configuration, but not stress test the edges.


I’m sure this is 100% correct.

I think there are quite a few different subsets of users when it comes to ST as a whole. You have people that are die-hard users and have dozens of devices and a ton of custom apps, and they know of the problems / limitations and live with them. I think a good majority of the people that frequent the forums fall into this category.

On the other extreme, you have people that probably bought into the system to turn a couple of lights on and off, probably have never visited the forums (or skimmed them) and seldom have a problem because they don’t really use the platform to its full potential.

There are probably people that go and buy a hub and a couple of switches, run into problems and just return the whole thing and call it a day.


Because we are ‘all’ not using the same number of devices in the same way. If you have less than 50 devices, use limited capabilities and maybe don’t combine local and cloud to cloud integrations, and certainly not turning lights on/off with sensors in high traffic places, or not setting levels for dimmable bulbs or switches with stock apps, you may have a positive experience. But once your algorithm becomes more complex, you start seeing platform hiccups left and right.And that’s understandable. Because ST is not all that bad comparing to other IoT companies. The good part is that they care to make things right. And they will, sooner or later!

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Man, guys, you cannot imagine how incredibly “adding insult to injury” these conversations start to feel to those of us who are just unlucky enough to be the ones experiencing these problems. Regardless of our individual technical backgrounds.

I understand that a number you of you are not having any problems. I am happy for you.

But I have been working with SmartThings support on mine for awhile, and I can tell you they are not easy problems to fix. They are not easy problems to diagnose. But they are real. And they are not user error. They are not due to the particular devices I’m chose. They are not due to any failure of knowledge or procedure on my part. So just lay off trying to diagnose something you haven’t even seen and aren’t having to deal with. Especially if you’re going to spend your time trying to figure out what you have done right that I have done wrong.

Just don’t worry about this if that’s going to be where you spend your time. It’s not helpful. There are already engineers working on this and they have access to 1000 data points that you can’t see. And given that there are threads with over 600 messages about the problems that people are having, they’re obviously not “rare.” Support has confirmed they are real. I’m glad you’re not having them. Just accept your good fortune and go on to something else.

Spend your time instead helping people with problems that can be solved, or contributing to the community wiki, or playing with your kids, or just doing something useful. Enjoy the system that is working for you.


Definitely not the intention of my post or wording, JD.

I do find it curious that some people have what they describe as fairly complex configurations and yet experience high stability. Academically, these are interesting cases because they might reveal the characteristics of what a SmartThings is specifically optimized for (even if unintentionally constrained to such configurations).

All HA is “local”, right? And so we agree that problems experienced by one customer may not be experienced by others and vice versa.

I think it is worthwhile to be able to predict what “type” of users / homes / configurations are more appropriate for SmartThings than others. Not based on marketing materials or specifications, but taking into account the real current performance levels, DIY complexity, and outstanding bugs / issues.

It would be interesting to run packet captures on the setups that are having issues…

Hey Terry, correct me if I am wrong, but I think what you’ve meant to say was this:

Perhaps there is an “optimal” user of SmartThings: Patient and physically able to tune their own configuration, to not stress test the edges.

Well the first category certainly describes my wife and her expectation of how ST “should run”, while the second, describes JD.

But you’ve also alienated those who buy into ST without any technical knowledge or minimal troubleshooting abilities. When people go in Best Buy, they buy a plug and play solution and most likely, these are the folks that are overwhelming the support these days.

That’s one of the things that I realize… that my problems are mine, and if I’m lucky there will be a few other people that share my frustrations, and the people that say “everything works for me” are lucky, and probably the minority… :smile:

I first ran into this situation with the whole presence business, which I know you had to engineer some crazy hat solution around. I fought that battle and decided that it wasn’t worth it, and as cool as it would be to have my garage door open and doors unlocked when I arrived, it would be exponentially more problematic if this happened when I didn’t intend it to. So I just turned that off and went another route.

I’m glad things work well for some people, but the laundry list of problems that keep this from being a terrific platform are actually pretty real for some of us.


I must really be using the wrong words, and I apologize.

I don’t consider those non-technical Customers to be, themselves, “sub-optimal”.

I’m saying that the combination of SmartThings and non-technical consumers is, currently, not a good combination. And I emphasize: that is most certainly not the consumers’ fault!!!

I avoid going so far as to outrightly called Samsung SmartThings’s marketing “deceptive” – but, well, perhaps that shoe fits.

I don’t think the overly shallow and positive tech/gadget/home automation media is helping either:

In other words… SmartThings is an incredible platform, doesn’t have comparable competitors with respect to many valuable features, … but it definitely has the characteristics of a “beta” product that is not ready for diverse mainstream non-technical consumer use, and should not be promoted to that sector without significant warnings / cautionary notes.


@geko @scottinpollock Remind me not to try to put a positive spin on anything around you guys. Ouch. Going back into the woods in my cabin away from people who terrorize me (SMILE)


We hate spin doctors around here. :smile:

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