The smart speaker race is hotting up and, shock horror, Samsung has reportedly been working on its own device, powered by its voice assistant Bixby. Sadly though, it may be quite some time before we see it break cover.
The Wall Street Journal reports the speaker project is codenamed Vega, but specs are "far from determined" and a release date is yet to be firmed up. We now also hear that the entire project seems to be up in the air, as The Investor reports Samsung is "not enthusiastic" about the project, according to an anonymous source.
Why? The company doesn't believe AI speakers are marketable. "Samsung currently does not view Al speakers as marketable, as the global market is already dominated by unbeatable Amazon and the Korean market is too small to make profits," said the source.
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Another potential reason is Bixby. Samsung's AI assistant has given the company fits recently, with the rollout delayed because it couldn't understand English. All of Samsung's AI specialists have been busy fixing that problem, making any kind of smart speaker a much tougher task. Bixby is rolling out to Galaxy S8 and S8+ users today, however, so it's possible Samsung has begun sorting it all out.
Samsung has reportedly been working on the Bixby speaker for more than a year though, and, interestingly, was apparently working on another speaker codenamed 'Hive' back in 2015. Initially planned to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Spain that year, it was reportedly shelved due to problems with voice recognition.
Samsung is very much on the back foot here. If the reports are to be believed it seems unlikely we'll see a smart speaker on the market this year, which means it will be behind Google, Amazon and Apple, the latter of which will be launching its HomePod speaker this December.
Samsung's biggest challenge right now is clearly getting Bixby to a point that it can compete with Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri. It's starting to get crowded out there, and it won't want to waste any time.