There’s always been one huge difference between SmartThings and Wink, though. SmartThings was acquired early by Samsung, and so had potential deep resources both in terms of technical expertise and funding if Samsung chose to deploy those. So while it still had to prove its worth to the parent company, it could be driven by long-term strategies.
In contrast, wink has always been about three months away from bankruptcy, in one direction or the other. Its first parent company, quirky, went through bankruptcy, and gave the Wink division to its primary creditor, Flextronics, after no other buyers could be found. (Amazon, Home Depot, and GE all passed.)
Flextronix then tried to spruce it up for sale, but in spite of one strategic partnership with Amazon, still couldn’t find any major IOT buyers (again, Amazon, Home Depot, and GE all passed). Then in a surprise move it was sold to Will.i.am for an undisclosed, but probably fairly small, sum. It now appears to be a vanity project, although maybe not. We’ll just have to see what happens with it.
Right now in the low-end of home automation the market has shown a willingness to pay extra for three things:
Cellular back up
Monthly professional monitoring
Cloud storage plus some extra camera features such as facial recognition.
Wink’s new offering has none of these. In fact, other than priority customer service support and equipment discounts, it’s hard to figure out what it does have.
It looks like it’s modeled much more on retail loyalty programs where you pay a fee to “join the club” and then you get discounts for a year. Club O for overstock is a good example. But it’s not like Will.i.am has a lot of experience with retail, either.
I think this is just more a matter of “let’s throw this out there and see if anybody pays for it.”
I’m sure somebody at Samsung will keep an eye on it, but wink isn’t really a “major player” in any sense at this point. Certainly not when compared to Amazon or Vivint or Apple or Nest or even Lowes. While it’s the most comparable competitor to SmartThings, I don’t see anything that Wink does as driving the industry in any significant way.