This has been discussed many times in the forums in one sense or another. You can find previous discussions by clicking on either of the two tags that I have added to your topic: “IOT industry,” or “IOT future.”
My own personal opinion is that it’s important to remember that the people who frequent this particular forum are power users and not typical of most smartthings customers, as SmartThings staff have posted publicly many times. (The typical SmartThings customer has less than 15 devices and never uses any custom code.)
The IOT industry has three main tiers, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
1) Plug and Play retail customers. These are people who typically spend less than $1000, want everything to “just work,” think they would like to have much more complex rules and more devices but are willing to live with what they have. The Phillips hue bridge, apple’s HomeKit, and Nest are all good examples of this. Amazon clearly intends The “hub inside” echo models (the plus and the second generation show) to fall into this group.
These are easy to buy, easy to use, and highly reliable. New features roll out pretty often and usually are surprisingly valuable. New devices take a long time to come.
MFOP ( maintenance free operating period) is typically six months or even longer.
None of these systems do everything, all of them have pretty glaring missing pieces, but customer satisfaction is high and customer service costs are pretty low.
2) Do It For Me systems. people in these forums tend to consistently under estimate the size of this particular market niche, But there are literally tens of millions of homes in the US that have these systems. They may be purchased from a stand-alone company like Vivint, from a security systems company like ADT, from the local cable company (Xfinity home alone has over 2 million customers) or, at the high-end, from specialized installers like control4 dealers.
These have a monthly service contract and a limited selection of devices. The rules features available vary by system. The ones that grew out of home security Systems often have very few. But the ones that come out of the home theater market offer surprisingly complex rules logic, it’s just that you have to pay somebody else to program it.
As long as the installer was competent, MFOP for these is very high, typically 12 months and often invisible to the end-user as the installer takes care of everything using installer tools.
Customer complaints about the systems, again assuming the installer was competent, almost all revolve around the “unnecessary” contracts and perceived lack of value. But the fact is those “extra” costs are what keep the systems running smoothly in the background.
I was one of those who used to complain bitterly about the cost of my Home security system until I started getting into home automation and realize that in 12 years my home security system had had only one perceived problem and that was fixed on the same day.
There are many people, including I would guess the large majority of the members of this forum, who won’t touch anything with a required monthly maintenance contract, but it is important to remember that there are actually many more people who will pay those costs as long as everything works well. They’ll complain about the costs for sure, but they will pay them.
This tier covers a very wide range of price points, from Xfinity home with an initial outlay of around $1500 and a monthly fee of around $40, to Control4, which typically costs 10 to 15% of the value of the home for the initial outlay and then a significant annual service contract after that.
3. Complex DIY Systems for people who are highly cost-sensitive . These include homeseer, the V2 SmartThings hub, and Hubitat, as well as open systems like Home Assistant.
The people who are happiest with these are usually those with a strong technical background who enjoy tinkering and don’t have a family reason for needing a long MFOP. They also hate service contracts, want to do everything themselves, and will buy $500 worth of $8 sensors and think they got a bargain, even if they don’t actually yet have a plan for where they’re going to use all those sensors. But they’ll think of something.
This is the majority of the power users on this forum. They want to build themselves the Jetsons house, but they want to spend as little money as possible. The system itself becomes a hobby, and they frequently don’t notice or don’t care if it takes more than an hour a week in maintenance, Or if the MFOP is regularly less than a month.
They either love their systems or hate them (sometimes both on the same day). But after they’ve had the system for a year, they don’t usually recommend it to other people unless they know the other person has a similar technical background or unless they themselves are planning to be the maintenance person, such as for a parents’ home.
Some of the DIY systems that people build out are truly amazing, but rarely replicable. And they can only be considered “low cost” if you assign a zero dollar value to the time spent to set it up and keep it running.
The Future is Coming for SmartThings
It seems really clear from the design decisions that have been made for the V3 hub and the new app that Samsung is trying to forcibly pull smartthings out of the DIY category and into the plug and play group. They aren’t there yet, but the trajectory is pretty obvious.
For example, the big added features are much smoother integration for Samsung smart TVs and smart appliances.
The big removed features are the ones that can create huge headaches for customer service: the new app cannot automate the unlocking of a door or the disarming of The security features. That’s not something they just didn’t get around to yet: that’s an intentional design decision. The new app supports only 20 rooms.
The new app also makes it very difficult to add many devices that were supported under the classic app unless you are also running the classic app, which they have already told us is going away eventually.
The following link is to a thread that describes the specific differences between the classic app and the new app. Looked at through this lens, I think it does support the trajectory argument.
SPECIFIC differences between "SmartThings (Samsung Connect)" and "SmartThings Classic"
If they can get the cloud reliability fixed, the new app as it exists today will be a decent android alternative to Apple’s HomeKit in the plug and play category. And my guess (although again, it’s only a guess) is that’s exactly the target they are trying to hit, with the obvious inclusion of Samsung’s big ticket smart items, including televisions and appliances. (And the fact that they’ve already said publicly that some features in the future will only be available for those who have Bixby.)
It will be very different than the V2 SmartThings, but I suspect Samsung management wants different.
We will see.
The Industry’s Future
I am also one of those, although in this case I have a lot of company from the professional analysts, Who believes that those three niches will continue to exist for at least five years and maybe longer.
There will be plug-and-play systems that you just pick up at Best Buy or order from Amazon that work just fine for what they do.
There will be DIFM Systems that come with professional installation, do more, cost more, and are bought the way mobile phones are mostly bought in the US, with a contract attached. People will continue to complain about the cost, but large numbers of people will continue to pay it.
And there will be some hobbyist systems, because there always are. They will have amazing features, have a low initial cost relative to the DIFM systems, And require lots of hands-on maintenance. And their users will continue to both love them and hate them. Legacy smartthings systems will continue to fit into this tier for as long as Samsung continues to offer them cloud support.
So I don’t think there is a single “battle for the home.” I think there will be some big name manufacturers aiming at each of these three tiers, and I think positions are still pretty fluid right now.
Choice is good.