@solardave1 and @chrisb , etc…
This is certainly off topic, but I figured I’d repeat one of my usual rants…
Home Automation for the direct-to-consumer market is definitely in the infancy of a very FAST MOVING transitional phase. There have been very few products out there that are reliable, expandable (and “open”), easy to use, and powerful. On the other hand, there are countless “luxury” brands and integrator-seller-partners (Crestron, Control 4, and on and on…), that I assume work extremely well (or at least come with professional service that fixes problems quickly enough to keep customers satisfied. These “luxury consumers” are like “pro-sumers”, I guess … through partnership with the integrators, can get anything done that the customer desires.
The direct-to-consumer brands have varying levels of reliability and expandability … and “automation” programming. GE, Lutron, Vera, Iris, X10.
In this context SmartThings is revolutionary – a direct-to-consumer product that has promising signs of being “consumer” friendly (no integrator-reseller required).
But a few points:
SmartThings (Physical Graph Corporation) is not necessarily going to be THE company that revolutionizes the industry. There is suddenly a lot of start-up competition (Motes, WigWag, …), as well as hardware projects that make connectivity-of-things easier (Spark Core, Bluetooth LE, smart phones, The Ubi, wifi light bulbs, Ivee, Electric Imp, ZigBee HA Version 2, …). These companies and technologies could just happen to leapfrog SmartThings, or win out even without overall superiority (such as Beta vs. VHS, DVD-HD vs Blu-Ray, …).
SmartThings publicized ecosystem model (the concepts, API, GUI, SmartApps, Device Handlers, …) has a lot of good things about it, and, IMHO, has quite a few things I feel are drawbacks or weaknesses – elements that I would have designed differently. Some of these will evolve and resolve – as “early adopters / backers”, we are, in reality, Beta testers.
Finally, SmartThings (PGC) is NOT open-source – not technically, nor as a BUSINESS. They are not sharing their underlying business model with us. It may be, at the extreme end, “nefarious”; I don’t mean “evil”, but rather, their focus may not be critical early-adopter hacker visionary folks. What is their target price point for devices? How will they strategically work with partners (API-API connectivity, new device integration, App developers, …), particularly if these partners may ALSO be COMPETITORS?
I am expressing that there are currently far too many unknowns here; and that makes it very RISKY to base a lot of work or money on this one company / product. It is certainly an educational experience, and we experience both wonders and frustrations right now. While I wish SmartThings all the best, I also have the same wishes for most of the up-and-coming competition – with the belief that competition will help evolve the rights products at the best prices.
If I could be granted wishes:
(a) SmartThings would be much more “open” technically (published and open source, API’s directly to the hub, ability to code and sell completely customized front-ends, …) and about their business strategy (how partnerships are likely to work (integrator-sellers, App developers, device developers, cloud subscription pricing…).
(b) SmartThings would have a more formal way for us to contribute to the evolution of the product (a bug/features request system with voting, for example – that’s a pretty common tool these days; … or a development-community “super-committee” with real power to influence design priorities and decisions.
Those wishes may not be granted and I still may end up being a super SmartThings fan… but I’m not jumping in yet. I’m enjoying the exploration and shared learning experience here.
In the meantime, those of us that just NEED “something that works”, must realistically consider what is available and working NOW (e.g., Z-Wave on Vera, X10, Insteon, …); and not be too distracted by the uncertainty here.