ST Deceptive Marketing / Due Dilligence

In December I decided to finally spend the money on home automation. Sure, I had some X10 stuff back in the 80’s but never felt the maturity of HA was there for what I was willing to spend. I wasn’t looking to do much more than manage some lights for now and felt that the basic consumer systems would work. When I did my research, one of my criteria was a stand alone system. I didn’t want a cloud or subscription service. SmartThings seemed to fit the bill.

Only after buying the system and discovering the forums did I find out that everything is run through a server. Being dependent on a hosted server and hoping it doesn’t fail is exactly what I didn’t want. Plus, it’s a small step from the server just being free to ST suddenly offering a premium subscription service for guaranteed performance. This, buy the way is the typical tech start up model so don’t be surprised when it happens.

I went back and looked to see why I had missed the server portion of the product. All I can find promotes the hub as a stand alone product. It seems like they are deliberately misrepresenting the product. This is what is on the “How it Works” page today:

Whether you have two smart devices or 200, all you need is one Hub to
create a smart home. Like a live-in translator, the Hub communicates
with all of your different connected products–regardless of their
wireless protocol–so that you can easily monitor and control them from
the SmartThings app.

So long as you have the free SmartThings app and a Hub, you can turn any
home into a smart home by adding connected “things.” By placing these
smart bulbs, locks, cameras, and other “things” in your home, you’ll be
able to monitor and control them using the SmartThings app

(emphasis mine)
No where does it talk about servers running the show. The way it’s written, it’s telling me that the smart app talks to the hub. And when I create rules, the app give the rules to the hub which can then work autonomously. It doesn’t tell me that I will have to depend on them to store the rules and send the commands to the hub. It’s possible that I missed it, but there seems to be a complete lack full disclosure here.

I didn’t buy this for a hobby and don’t care that every other brand out there has it’s problems. I bought a product promoted as a simple, reliable HA tool because that’s what I was looking for.


emphasis added as this seems to be a mantra of apologists who have been through the HA wringer with other ecosystems. Does. Not. Matter. This is a product. A broke product is still broke even if others are more broke. Sorry for your other bad experiences. It does not excuse ST nor does it in anyway illegitimize bad experiences with ST.


This is true. They conveniently omit this fact as technicality. You’d have to dig deep into how-to’s and community forums to find out about their dependency on the cloud.

Interestingly, there’s a FAQ entry concerning Internet connection requirement, but you won’t find it if you go to their official FAQ page. And even that answer gives an average non-technical user and impression that most functionality will work without Internet connection, which is of course totally deceiving. Specifically, it does not even mention that you won’t be able to use SmartThing mobile app to control or monitor your “smart” home.


No where does it talk about needing electricity either… I think you might be on to something.


Well actually, they do.

The Hub contains ZigBee and Z-Wave radios, and is also compatible with
IP-accessible devices. There’s no hard-wiring or installation needed.
Simply connect it to your Internet router using the included Ethernet
cable, attach the power cord to the back of the Hub, and you’re ready to
start creating a safer, smarter home.

Of course I’m assuming that the power cord is for the delivery of electricity. :sunglasses:


Then you can assume that:

Is used for the delivery of those cloud servers :wink:


Nope. Not necessarily. Both Vera and Staples Connect, for example have to be connected to the router to communicate with smartphone but they don’t need Internet connection.



That can be assumed as required for control of the hub via the app.

Everyone knows energy is required in one form or another.

It is not assumed that computing is done in the cloud unless explicitly stated.


This is, of course, common sense for most people, except perhaps for millennials, who seem to believe that everything and everyone has to be connected to Internet to function both physically and socially. :smile:


Just a follow-up. This page has a video of the ST CEO Alex Hawkinson stating (at 1:05) about the new hub:

It can run off line. So that if the internet goes out in your home or even the power goes out in your home, it can keep operating and watch over your home for you.

That sounds pretty much like the hub can work without the servers.


The Cloud obviously isn’t for scalability and stability. :wink:

The cloud component provides a data mining source for consumer habits. This is a second revenue stream that can potentially provide more income than selling the hubs alone. Ever wonder why they’re just $99? It’s a steal in my opinion.


@geko @JH1 you’re both missing the point.

It can work without “the servers”, not entirely but in certain circumstances it can and that list of circumstances will only grow from here.

This reminds me of the time I used to work for a certain (at the time) popular hardware company, the products would state “Requires: Windows 95/98/XP” a customer brought it, tried to install it and it didn’t work, he had Windows Server 2000, he complained that because it didn’t state that that it doesn’t work with Windows Server 2000 that it should and that he was going to sue us, we told him that it also doesn’t say that it doesn’t work as a flotation device in the event of an water landing but we recommended that he didn’t try…

Not to dispute your data mining theory (I actually said it several times before), but $99 is not that cheap for a Chinese-made product. The most expensive parts in it are probably DRAM and Flash chips and those are made by you guess who (tip: it starts with ‘Sam’ and ends with ‘sung’). :smile:

As a CEO, it’s his fiduciary duty, to put as much lipstick as necessary on the hub to sell it. But yeah, Alex is known for making some quite remarkable claims, like the one where he was able to migrate 200 devices from V1 to V2 in 20 minutes or something like that. I think his maiden name was actually Munchausen. :smile:


Yes you could also say that about a lot of products, that the BOM doesn’t cost anywhere near that much but that’s completely besides the point.

You could try the loss leading model? Let’s ask Wink how that’s working out for them :smile:

You can nuance it all you want. I’m telling you how I, as Joe Consumer, viewed the product based on what they did say. And a lot of consumers wouldn’t understand that the performance of the product they bought is dependent on an off-site server. Heck, most don’t understand what the Cloud is other than it’s cool and hip (like a lot of IT VPs, but that’s a different topic).


If I’m adding any “nuance” it’s to point out the nuance in your arguments as to why you think ST is “misleading” you.

It’s quite obvious that SmartThnings deliberately tries to obscure the fact that the hub is totally dependent on the Internet connection (with few exceptions). In fact, its main use case as a home security device (according to all their marketing materials) is completely useless without it.

How do you explain that the very simple and obvious question whether the hub will work without Internet is not listed on the FAQ page, but buried somewhere deep in “related questions”. If they were serious about security, they’d put it up front to warn the potential users about its limitations.


What can I say guys, other than the advice I gave to the last guy, good luck with your case if you decide to pursue it.

Pursue what? No-one is going to pursue anything. The only purpose of this thread is to spread information, and hopefully help someone like @MCE_LLC to avoid disappointment. Unless of course it will be erased like many other similar threads by some of the former members of this community who’re now on SmartThings payroll, dutifully guarding its reputation. :smile:


Erased threads (“Topics”)? I don’t know of any …

Everything is indexed in Google … and probably in Google cache too.