A lot of the attention around smart homes has been centred on the offerings coming out of Samsung, who’re aggressively moving in the direction of the smart home. Manufacturers have been seeking their new consumer technology ‘rockstar’ to replace the declining smartphone sales caused by the market approaching saturation. Hidden slightly quieter behind the scenes, but making a big play at the space is Amazon, who have their Amazon Echo offering. For many, Samsung is the obvious choice but its worth taking a moment to compare the Amazon Echo verses Samsung SmartThings.
Amazon Echo is a curious beast, and a lot of you have been asking ‘what does Amazon Echo do’? Its the enigma of the smart home space, failing to be easily classified yet at $180, expensive enough to need some good use cases. Promoted by Amazon as a music player, it is actually much more, with a raft of features that mean its perfectly possible to build a smart home around it. As we’re about to demonstrate with five smart examples.
As 56% of Brits alone plan to make their first investments in the smart home space, this is a pertinent time to touch on the importance of making the right choice around the central hub to the home. SmartThings, acquired by Samsung, sits at the heart of their offering, and as we’ve talked about is being leveraged to form the central hub of their offering. Samsung are trying to lock users down around their market leading TV proposition, in order to then have that form the central hub to the smart home, with a further 200 connected devices being hooked up to it. The central hub is thus critically important in any decision that you make around the smart home. So think clearly and research heavily before deciding if you should use a product like Amazon Echo or go with Samsung.
In our opinion, you could do worse than to go with the Amazon Echo, which does a lot of what SmartThings does. Its a punt to go with Echo, as Samsung are carving out a clear lead in this space, but the smart money is on a big play coming from Amazon during 2016. This was quietly evidenced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas this month.
Amazon are betting big on Smart home tech, no least because they believe that their Alexa voice command system could become central to the offering. It comes loaded on Echo, and can now control a lot of other smart inputs. Alexa in Echo gives you voice controlled music, but that under-sells it. You can already instruct Alexa to read you the news, tell you the weather, get stock updates, sport updates and some cringe-worthy jokes (try “what makes the ocean wet”).
This is essentially voice controlled web browsing, and as the internet of things sits at the heart of smart tech, it can also be used to control much more then christmas-cracker bad jokes and some quick look-ups. As Amazon are quietly running around integrating other companies smart tech, like the Phillips Hue lighting. Suddenly, your light switches are not only controlled via an app, but also by your voice. This is pretty cool, and its very much just the start. Clearly Alexa, and Amazon, can become the brains behind your smart home – all in a way that Samsung have not yet matched. This is why making a bet on Amazon may actually make sense.
Samsung however are also pursuing the integration route, and bring a more stellar and much wider reaching technology pedigree to the table. The prudent and safe bet when comparing Amazon Echo vs Samsung SmartThings would be to plunge for Samsung. Samsung make a lot more electronics (and have done so for many more years) than Amazon. Its likely that in a fair contest, you would want Samsung to make your TV. You’d likely also want them to make other home appliances and technologies too – in a way you wouldn’t for Amazon. Samsung, according to the law of averages, probably make your smartphone, maybe even a smart watch and a tablet for you too. They make cool home appliances, like fridges too.
Yet despite this, I feel that Amazon is quietly progressive and has big aims in this market. They have also already expanded beyond the home, with their partnership with Ford announced, helping to make the car and home smart together. They long since left behind their routes as a book shop, and their Amazon Web Services platform powers a lot of the apps which power a lot of smart tech. The central hub should be the nerve centre of the smart home, and the Echo fits that bill more than a TV (IE Samsungs’s proposition). Its arguable too that the TV is becoming less important in homes where the internet takes precedence, and with more and more consumption coming across multiple devices simultaneously. All of this indicates that Amazon are no bad choice, but like anything, the options are there for a reason, and you need to pick the one which ticks the most boxes for your home.