Why Apple will kill Smartthings

It’s always fun to look back and revisit prognostications that were made over a year ago and evaluate them based on how things have actually unfolded since then. Who wants to assign a letter grade to the “Apple will kill SmartThings” prediction?


I hope he didn’t do that as the UK SmartThings plug has a design fault making it a fire risk, melting under mid load. They are now being replaced/exchanged by ST. That certainly would have flickered… possibly ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’

I’d give the prognostication paper a D+. If not for the effort made, it should have received an E. The author just doesn’t seem to understand the technology, despite being a CTO.

I’ve been an aficionado of home automation since the mid-90’s when I installed a rather extensive X10 home automation and security system in my home. I moved over to ST about 3 months ago and love it, and have even incorporated many of my old X10 switches to work with Smartthings. My home is about 4500’ on three levels, and by utilizing 3 Iris smartplugs, which act as both Z-wave and Zigbee repeaters, I haven’t had any troubles with any of the 30 smart devices currently installed.

Funny, but I’ve never had any real difficulties that could not be resolved by a bit of research and simply learning the new system.

Sorry the OP had troubles…especially receiving defective equipment, but I believe Smartthings will be the future…a large user base supporting open architecture technology. What could be better!

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Wish we had these in the UK / Europe… they sound great.

I’d give it a B-, although I don’t think it’s Apple that did it, I just think it’s the direction of the industry.

The main thing that has unfolded since then is that SmartThings is now going in an entirely new direction for the things that made it special, particularly the use of custom code. There’s a whole thread discussing that, so I’ll leave the details for that one:

But SmartThings as it was in the fall of 2016 will be gone within another year.

Meanwhile, plug and play systems with simple rule systems, like HomeKit, will exist and probably be in more homes then SmartThings was at the end of 2016.

And the new SmartThings in 2019 is going to look a lot more like HomeKit 2019 then it does like SmartThings 2016.

I suspect it will still support a lot more devices than HomeKit does and I hope it will continue to have a more complex rules engine option, but we won’t know for sure until the end of this year.

There’s a lot of uncertainty yet, on both sides, but market forces are demanding more reliability and simpler installation. And Samsung has made the decision that, like many other brands, the way to get to those is to limit the number of choices, or at least “offshore them” by requiring individual developers to take the responsibility of hosting custom code.

HomeKit runs completely locally except for voice command processing. Samsung is Not taking SmartThings in that direction ( another reason I only give it a B minus), but it is greatly simplifying how its cloud will be used, and limiting what will run there.

So I think the OP recognized some important industry trends, but maybe not the instigators of those trends. Apple was just riding the right wave. :wink:

If you read the thread you linked, the use of custom code is not going anywhere. We are actually creating entirely new ways of using custom code. By the end of the year there will be more custom code running on our platform, not less.

For example the new device plugin framework:

Developer creates a plugin for a device. The plugin is a web app, packaged as a PPK (Plugin Package) file. Plugins can be either uploaded to Samsung’s plugin store for external distribution, or self-published for internal testing.

Well, that was the prediction. “Why Apple will kill Smartthings”.


There’s a powerful community around SmartThings. I’m pretty sure they know that well too.

The philosphy is openness, that’s why they are adopting standards like OCF and they are not trying to create a new one like HomeKit.

It’s difficult right now because (I assume) they are working very hard to write a brand new, backward-compatible, backend with a lot of very cool new features. The effort required to develop this monstruous, let’s hope the result will be exciting.


No offense, but saying Apple will kill SmartThings (along with the issues you describe having) makes me seriously question your “CTO” credentials.

ST has its issues, but I have around 170 devices installed and generally they work pretty solidly. Yeah, there have been more issues recently for sure and I’m pretty sure that’s because Samsung put an unrealistic timetable on moving everything into the ST app and they’re making mistakes.

Apple will do what Apple generally does - they’ll make a decent product, diehard Apple fans will snap it up, and it will be a small player in the HA market.

Great to see my original post is still provoking reaction :slight_smile: and I still stand by it but I appreciate that it hasn’t happenened yet. The one who will win in the smart home market is the one who makes it useable for everyone and SmartThings isn’t that product. I’m still using it and bought a few more devices for my network:

Z-wave range extender: didn’t extend anything. Basically useless
Radiator termo valves: worked great!
Wall thermostat: needed a custom driver

Yes of course you can get most things to work but “the masses” can’t. That’s my point and I stand by it

I don’t disagree with your point about ST not currently being for the masses, but neither is Apple. Apple originally shot themselves in the foot by requiring a specific chip in HomeKit devices and that severely impeded adoption. Even though that is no longer a requirement, I still see Apple as being a niche player in this market.

I believe the showdown will come down to Amazon vs Google vs Samsung and I wouldn’t bet against Amazon at this point given their aggressive acquisitions recently. I look for them to buy Wink next. In fact, I think it was a boneheaded move for them not to buy Wink when Quirky went under because it would’ve been pocket change.

The Veras, Hubitats, and OpenHABs of the world will be niche products for techies like us. I fully intend to move things over to Hubitat in the future.

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No, I think the community is basically saying pick a mainstream device such as SmartThings branded hardware. But if you do choose to pick up a Bluetooth headset for $4.99 from a gas station on your way through town don’t be surprised if you have issues pairing with your phone. Especially one that, from what I can tell with a quick Google search, is end of life and riddled with other people complaining about them. It’s possible that cheap manufacturer providing the one-page manual with 18 different languages on it may not have produced the best quality product.

There are a ton of other manufacturers besides ST that are reliable, supported and more stable. Notice I said more stable. I won’t begin to pretend ST doesn’t have its issues or disagree that it isn’t exactly ready for the masses but I do believe they are far ahead of any other HA platform at the moment. For that matter, I can’t give an Amazon Echo to my 60-year-old parents without some help either but it’s getting better.

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Yet, with 23 posts in January, I am among the 10% Posters and 49 people are among also the 10% posters so let me back-compute… that makes 490 people worldwide posting last month. I tend to think we are several thousands using smartthings, so I am not sure we are so many in the end.

Now I agree with you that the community is really helpful and nice to new comers and patient with struggling users. That’s not something you see on every forum (just QNAP forum not to mention it: go there once, get shamed/insulted by the so/self called experts, and never go again).
What I regret a bit is that there seems to have less and less groovy devs for smartapps and more pistons/webcore. I am still trying to do things with grovvy on my side though.

Well, here we are with another year having come and gone since OP’s prediction. Has Apple driven a stake through ST’s heart yet?

The funny thing is that you’d think that an animal with so many self-inflicted wounds would be easier for a much larger competitor to kill. And yet…

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I’m surprised as well but it also makes me sad… :slight_smile:

I’ve been in the ST bandwagon for I think 4 years now? Maybe 5… I’m too lazy to look. But there’s always the thread about how ST is dead, and how terrible it is and it will eventually fade into obscurity.

And yet, here we are… week after week, still chugging along.

But the sad part though is that even with all the issues, and quite a few of the wounds being self-inflicted, SmartThings retains a user base and continues to function with enough promise that people haven’t just left – or the product being killed off or sold out of existence, relegated to a closet with the Revolv or TCP hubs, in exchange for something else.

So it makes you wonder what it would be like if they actually worked out all of their issues… and maybe that promise is what keeps hope alive. :slight_smile:

I think it depends very much on how you define “SmartThings.”

Since the original post the company has officially announced that the current groovy platform will go away in the future, but the new platform is still missing a lot of functionality and they don’t seem to be doing very much with it as far as keeping third party developers up-to-date.

As @tgauchat has noted, their Twitter feed has been pretty much silent since November, and that includes through CES 2019. Support is now regularly taking weeks to get back to people.

The new app is missing significant functionality that was available in the old app, but no promises that it will be added. Existing customers are told both to continue using the old app and that the old app will be eventually discontinued.

It seems quite clear that a smartthings aimed at someone who owns a Samsung smart TV or appliance and has only a dozen or so total devices and never uses any custom code (not even a DTH) Will continue to exist and they have added features for that group over the last year. Including a much better home kit – like simple rules engine.

It’s not at all clear that the highly customizable Power user platform that most of the people in this forum are interested in will continue to exist even into 2020.

So at this point, I would grade the OP a B- on their prediction. We won’t really be able to tell until the groovy platform is shut down, because much will depend on what the new platform will support. But I think the trendlines do follow what they predicted.

( and, by the way, I don’t think it was HomeKit that pushed these changes, but rather The market demand represented by echo and Google home.)


That’s a good point, and this is a more phased approach to the sunsetting process that we’ve seen from other vendors.

I remember when TCP decided that they didn’t wanna be bothered, gave everyone notice and let the chips fall where they may.

It could be that the Samsung version of SmartThings – the TV / washer / fridge thing with a couple of other items – will continue to live just fine through the years, and that’s a parallel effort to the OG version that we’ve been using. And that one day – whenever that is – ST will say “goodbye ST Classic” and the power users will be left with another dead hub thinking about the good old days.

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I think your own analysis of what is happening with ST is probably mostly correct. But the prediction was “Apple will kill Smartthings”, not “Samsung will opt to take Smartthings in a very different direction from what it is now for various reasons having nothing to do with HomeKit”.


Good point. I think the OP correctly identified the pain points with SmartThings, many of which still exist, and correctly pointed out that there were competitors coming into the space who didn’t have the same pain points.

I agree with you that it’s not HomeKit specifically killing the original SmartThings. :sunglasses: