Samsung enters US smart home space through ADT deal

Samsung has dealt another blow to the waning operator-controlled smart home dream, partnering with home security firm ADT to launch a new smart security system. It seems to want to strike the balance between professional security systems and DIY devices.

Significantly, Samsung isn’t the first tech titan to have picked up ADT for a partnership, as ADT secured an integration deal with Amazon’s Alexa early this year – which is on the way to becoming the de facto voice of the smart home. ADT is as much a “de facto” leader, in alarms that alert the local police directly.

Samsung is combining its SmartThings platform, considered one of the most well-rounded on the market due to its compatibility with multiple devices, with ADT’s security monitoring expertise – famed for its fast response time to security alerts. Samsung acquired SmartThings in 2014, and has been rumored to launch its own rival to the Amazon Echo, powered by its Bixby assistant which suffered a delayed launch in the US. This is where ADT’s 143 years of experience could give the South Korean firm the boost it needs in the congested smart home space.

The joint package certainly doesn’t scream cheap, starting at $500, but the selling point is a contract-free service from a trusted security professional and a household technology name, rather than a greedy operator hungry to up its ARPU. The basic Home Security Starter Pack gets you a security hub, two door and window detectors and a motion detector.

Home owners can navigate the ADT/SmartThings Security Hub touchscreen panel to control all your usual smart home functions such as lightbulbs and thermostats. Additional sensors can be added as required, including fire, carbon monoxide and water detection, to expand the smart home ecosystem – all tied together by the SmartThings mobile app. The hub includes cellular data backup and dual encryption wireless technology.

Monthly plans range from $15 to $25 a month and can be canceled at any time, whereas ADT’s solo services charges a monthly fee of between $37 and $53 in a three-year deal, albeit with a lower $99 upfront cost for similar security devices.

Samsung rival LG might feel hard done by as it manufactures some ADT hubs and has its own, almost identically named, smart home platform SmartThinQ, which covers security but is more focused on smart home appliances such as fridges and washing machines.

The joint product from Samsung and ADT certainly looks like better value for money when compared to a smart security service from AT&T through its Digital Life business, setting you back $1,470 for the mid-tier option. Its monthly fees are minimal at between $5 and $10, but Digital Life’s security option quickly escalates when adding automation features such as the video camera package, door package, energy package and water detection package, which all add up to around $500 extra.

AT&T is looking to bin its Digital Life smart home service that it was recently talking up as a significant licensing opportunity. Aiming to share the design with other operators, in return for a fee, AT&T had already signed Telefonica O2 in the UK as a customer – but there has been precious little news since that was confirmed. A rival approach from Deutsche Telekom called Qivicon has been making progress in Europe, with DT warning about the threat from overseas platforms.

So it looks like DT won’t have to worry about an AT&T incursion, at least until a rival picks up Digital Life and runs with it. There are no rumored buyers currently, and Reuters believes that the division is worth around $1 billion. ADT, which is owned by private equity firm Apollo, is one likely buyer, as well as other home security companies like Notably, Verizon also bailed on its Home Monitoring and Control service, back in 2014.

Comcast has disclosed that it currently has over a million Xfinity Home customers, since it launched the service in 2012, and has doubled the subscriber base in the past two years.

“One of the top reasons our customers are interested in smart home is the ability to easily monitor and secure their homes, but their wants and needs can vary greatly. The new Samsung SmartThings and ADT partnership gives them more flexibility than ever to control their homes how, when and where they want to,” said Mary Ortizcazarin, VP of Smart Home at Best Buy.