Samsung Electronics is a global market leader for high-tech electronics and appliances. Its product line spans a range of mobile devices, digital consumer electronics, infrastructure, and home appliances. Recently, digitization has provided opportunities for Samsung to expand its business model and innovate in product categories such as home appliances. The introduction of its latest Family Hub Refrigerator is an example of Samsung’s innovation in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. Samsung has used technology to upgrade a central appliance found in every home, “transforming the communal kitchen experience for consumers in ways that will re-define how they view and use their refrigerator.” 
For Samsung, the benefits of a smart refrigerator are clear: Home appliances are not exactly the most sought-after items on anyone’s gift list. For years, refrigerators were seen merely as functional appliances with little potential for upsell or repurchase. Samsung has taken a mundane purchase from a need to a want. Furthermore, Samsung has the opportunity to create a completely connected home – from other kitchen appliances to televisions, security systems, etc. Samsung stands to gain from this connected ecosystem, especially since most consumers will remain loyal to a single brand if converting their entire home given the ease of connectivity among all smart appliances.
Kitchen appliances were typically considered time saving goods, whereas entertainment products are considered time using goods. Digitization and the introduction of smart kitchen appliances has started to blur the lines between time saving and time using goods. In the future, there will be more competition for how much time people allocate to the use of each, especially as time saving goods become more like time using goods.  By selling a breadth of products that span across time saving and time using goods, Samsung should be well-protected against this competition over consumers’ time.
But for the consumer, what are the benefits of a connected kitchen? Having a smart refrigerator like Samsung’s Family Hub allows you to see inside your refrigerator from anywhere via its advanced cameras that capture images every time the door closes. This allows consumers to track what they have in the fridge and what they need to buy at the grocery store. For children or elderly people who might overlook expiration dates, smart refrigerators can help manage this by sending alerts of what should be thrown out. You can even link the Family Hub refrigerator to online grocery shopping and recipe applications. There seem to be further opportunities to integrate this technology with an Amazon-Echo-like product that would automatically re-order certain products when they reach low levels as detected by your refrigerator. Samsung’s Family Hub also features a large tablet-like interface on the front that essentially replaces the need for magnets and papers to remind the family of important upcoming events.  This all sounds great, right?
But what about the costs? Aside from the steep price tag of ~$6,000 (as compared to an offline version that costs as little as $500-$1,000), smart refrigerators pose another potentially costly challenge. Like our smartphones, frequent software updates fix everything from annoying bugs to major vulnerabilities. Smart appliances are prone to the same cyber security risks, especially when personal calendars and email are linked to the devices as in the case of Samsung’s Family Hub fridge.  One way to mitigate the risk of hacking is to ensure that you use different internet connections across your various smart devices.  In addition to malware and security issues, there is increased risk of spying and robbery. Smart refrigerators capture a lot of data about usage patterns that could clue others into what time you wake up in the morning (grabbing milk for your coffee) and leave the house for work (grabbing your lunch bag), when you return home in the evening (taking ingredients out for dinner), what time you go to bed (shortly after putting that tub of ice cream back in the freezer), and when you might be out of town for an extended period of time (fridge remains shut for several days).  If this information got into the wrong hands, there could be physical risks to your home. These security risks expose consumers with smart appliances to additional vulnerabilities that might not be worth the aforementioned benefits.
While the actual price tag of smart refrigerators and other similar digital home appliances is likely to drop over time, as technology products have in the past, there are real concerns about security as it relates to IoT and digitalization in the home. Samsung and other companies that provide these new, cutting edge technologies should help equip consumers with the required monitoring systems to keep them safe. For example, Samsung should find a way to push software updates automatically to its smart appliances to ensure consumers are protected at all times.
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 “Samsung Introduces an Entirely New Category in Refrigeration as Part of Kitchen Appliance Lineup at CES 2016,” Samsung press release (USA, January 6, 2016).
 Richard Harper, ed., Inside the Smart Home (London, England: Springer, 2003), pp. 31-36.
 Lisa Eadicicco, “Behold Samsung’s New $5,800 Smart Refrigerator,” Time (May 4, 2016), http://time.com/4318290/samsungs-smart-refrigerator-family-hub/, accessed November 2016.
 Chris Hoffman, “Why buying a smart fridge is a dumb idea,” How to Geek (blog), July 9, 2016, http://www.howtogeek.com/260896/why-buying-a-smart-fridge-is-a-dumb-idea/, accessed November 2016.
 Kari Paul, “7 ways to keep your smart home from being hacked,” MarketWatch (October 20, 2016), http://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-ways-to-keep-your-smart-home-from-being-hacked-2016-10-17, accessed November 2016.
 Joseph Steinberg, “These Devices May Be Spying On You (Even In Your Own Home),” Forbes (January 27, 2014), http://www.forbes.com/sites/josephsteinberg/2014/01/27/these-devices-may-be-spying-on-you-even-in-your-own-home/#48df01dd6376, accessed November 2016.
 Samsung, “Family Hub,” http://www.samsung.com/global/ces2016/familyhub/, accessed November 2016.