AT&T hints at $5-a-month consumer IoT pricing

Samsung’s SmartThings business announced a new LTE M tracking product the company said would allow consumers to keep tabs on everything from pets to backpacks. Importantly, the device will sell for $99, and that price includes a year of AT&T LTE M service. After that year, services on the device will cost $5 per month.

Verizon said its own LTE M network would support the device later this year.

“With SmartThings Tracker, it’s easier to locate a gym bag or backpack lost at school, a laptop case left in the airport lounge, or a pet that might have wandered too far from home. Items can be easily tracked in real time through Samsung’s Android and iOS compatible SmartThings app,” Samsung said in a release about the product. “Family members can also use SmartThings Tracker to stay connected by sending a location notification to the SmartThings app that alerts the rest of the family of their whereabouts. And, since it is SmartThings-enabled, SmartThings Tracker can be used as an arrival sensor, triggering automations like a connected porch light turning on when the device is within range.”

“When it comes to connected living, we want to give people more meaningful experiences that apply to their everyday life,” said SK Kim, senior director of IoT product marketing at Samsung Electronics America, in the release. “By combining the coverage of nationwide carrier networks with the expansiveness of the SmartThings ecosystem, we’re helping families keep track of what matters most to them while also continuing to make it easy to control and manage their smart home, all in one device.”

The new SmartThings Tracker from Samsung ties together a number of important trends in the internet of things space. First, it represents one of the major new product categories from Samsung SmartThings; Samsung acquired SmartThings in 2014 for a reported $200 million. Since then, Samsung has been working to expand the SmartThings product portfolio to include a variety of items, and to tie SmartThings into Samsung's other product offerings including smartphones and appliances.

But for AT&T and Verizon, the new Samsung SmartThings product represents a major new consumer opportunity. Samsung’s SmartThings Tracker is one of the first major consumer-facing offerings to embrace the LTE M Network standard. Both AT&T and Verizon launched LTE M network services late last year; the network technology promises to support slower speed wireless network connections alongside low-power battery usage. Indeed, Samsung’s new SmartThings Tracker boasts a battery that can last up to a week on a single charge, depending on usage.

But perhaps most importantly, the new Samsung SmartThings tracker serves to set a bar for the pricing of consumer-facing IoT network products. At $5 per month, the Samsung SmartThings Tracker sits lower than the Apple Watch in terms of monthly service pricing; Apple Watch monthly service costs $10 per month across most major nationwide wireless operators.