As more and more connected devices–light bulbs, air conditioners, televisions–go online, the race is on to build what will become the dominant Internet of Things platform, through which all these objects would easily talk to one another. But at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Monday night, Samsung CEO BK Yoon announced a move that could give the company a stronger positioning out of the gate: Samsung is pledging more than $100 million in funding for developers to help create an open Internet of Things.
“I’ve heard people say they want to create a single operating system for IoT, but these people only work with their own devices,” said Yoon. “We can deliver the benefits of IoT only if all sensors can talk to each other.”
Although the company isn’t named directly, this can be viewed as a dig at one of Samsung’s chief competitors, Apple, which has already made its own Internet of Things ambitions clear with the launching of its home automation hub HomeKit. While Apple’s strategy relies far more on the kind of “walled garden” it is known for cultivating, Samsung is setting out to help establish the Internet of Things from the ground up.
Yoon went on to “promise” that Samsung’s Internet of Things products and devices will be open. “We will ensure that others can easily connect to our devices,” he noted. To prove his point, he shared a stage with guests representing Jawbone and BMW, as well as the Samsung-owned SmartThings.
It’s a great move for Samsung if it can pull it off—and particularly likely to go over well at a venue like CES, where the inability of many gadgets to communicate with each other is viewed as a hurdle to their widespread adoption. Furthermore, by setting out its goal for a completely open Internet of Things, Samsung has established a goal it knows Cupertino is unlikely to try and follow.
“The opportunities and benefits of IoT are huge, but so are the challenges,” Yoon said. “We need an open system and to collaborate across industries, not just within technology.”
Samsung is repositioning itself as an Internet of Things innovator, but it remains to be seen whether the company can pull off its lofty ambitions.