The Internet of Things is as much about computing as it is about the "things" themselves, and that's why Samsung Electronics is buying Joyent.
At first glance, a maker of smartphones, home appliances and wearables doesn’t seem like it would need a cloud computing company. But so-called smart objects rely on a lot of number-crunching behind the scenes. A connected security camera can't handle all its video storage and image analysis by itself, for example, and that's where cloud services come in.
The real money in IoT will be in the services more than the devices themselves, research firm Gartner says. It’s not entirely up to Samsung to deliver services its devices, but the company sees an opportunity there.
“Samsung could have continued to buy space on Amazon or Microsoft’s servers to build out services for its products, but instead chose to invest in cloud infrastructure itself,” analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis said via email.
The company already offers Artik Cloud, a service companies can use to collect, store and analyze data from sensors. It introduced Artik Cloud in April to take on services like Microsoft’s Azure IoT. Large customers pay monthly, per device, to exchange a certain number of messages with devices in the field. Artik Cloud also works with third-party products like Fitbits and the Amazon Echo.
“Samsung wants to compete with companies like Apple and Google by providing best-in-class cloud services and applications to complement its hardware,” MachNation analyst Dima Tokar said via email. Scaling up those operations will be a challenge as the number of devices grows, and Joyent will help give Samsung the muscle to do that, Tokar said.
Buyers of Samsung IoT devices are more likely to see cloud services from the company in gear they buy in the future.
“Having Joyent in the corporate fold makes it more likely that Samsung’s product managers embed cloud services around its mobile and IoT devices,” Greengart said.
Samsung made a big investment in home IoT software in 2014 when it bought SmartThings, maker of a remote-control smartphone app and a software platform for outside developers and device makers.
The company has put its Tizen OS, which failed to gain much traction on phones, at the center of many of its IoT devices. Joyent’s technology may also power cloud services for that platform, Tokar said.
Joyent isn’t just a provider of cloud capacity. It was the original home of the popular open-source runtime software Node.js, which powers interactive Web interfaces. The company’s major products are Triton, which delivers containers as a service, and Manta, an object storage technology.
After the acquisition, Joyent will operate as an independent subsidiary of Samsung, and Samsung will be an anchor tenant for Triton and Manta, Joyent CEO Scott Hammond said in a blog post. The two companies plan to develop vertically integrated mobile and IoT services and solutions, he said.
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