Samsung Says A Smart Speaker Is On The Way, But Bixby Hasn’t Proven Anything Yet
The smart speaker industry, a young but highly competitive rapidly growing tech sector, has seen successful attempts by Amazon, Google, and soon, Apple. Add Samsung to that list.
Along with Echo, Home, and HomePod, Samsung is planning to break into the smart speaker market with its own device that's scheduled to be launched "soon."
DJ Koh, Samsung's mobile division chief, told CNBC that the company is already working on it.
"Maybe soon we will announce it," said Koh.
Bixby Smart Speaker: What Can It Do?
The goal is to create a smart speaker that can be used to connect with other internet-of-things products inside a connected home, from smart light bulbs to fridges. Koh reiterated that he wants to "provide a fruitful user experience at home [through the use of] Samsung devices."
"I want to be moving quite heavily on it."
What else will power Samsung's smart speaker other than the Bixby virtual assistant? That, however, doesn't spell much of a promise. Bixby, which was announced alongside the Galaxy S8, suffered delayed rollouts and hampered performance. Voice features, for instance, were left out on the initial launch for a number of reasons, one of them being lack of data, according to The Verge.
Bixby Needs To Prove Its Worth
Launching a proprietary smart speaker, one that bears that promise of acting as a smart home hub, is a bold vote of confidence for Bixby, considering it still needs to prove its mettle. People are lukewarm toward the assistant, but only because its presence is a bit confusing. Sure, Samsung wanted to develop its own virtual artificial intelligence-powered ecosystem, but Google already has Assistant, and at least at the time being, it's far more capable.
Samsung's in-development smart speaker will face the same problem: there's already Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod. Why do people need a Bixby-powered smart speaker, when Bixby itself doesn't offer anything compelling yet?
Ultimately, Samsung must realize that its smart speaker should be a punch above others already populating the market, and Bixby can't be the lone selling point. Perhaps it can shine on more complex smart home integrations, but it will inevitably compete with newcomer Essential if it heads in that direction.
Koh's confirmation sounds more like a concern than a promise. Just last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung was developing a Bixby-powered smart speaker codenamed "Vega." However, the report also suggested development was held back because of complications with Bixby.
But Bixby has been made available worldwide recently, indicating those complications have been ironed out. Koh failed to give any hints on a possible release date for this smart speaker, but expect due coverage when we learn more.