With the news that Samsung is building a Bixby powered smart speaker, to release next year, after Amazon, Google, Microsoft and even Apple will have launched their own smart home speakers, we thought we'd take a look at how it has fared so far in 2017.
Because at first blush, it seems that it's a little way behind some of the other big tech companies or at least in the middle of a lull, not helped by the delays getting its Bixby voice assistant out in any form. That's not where we're used to seeing Samsung and it might just be that in wearable tech, VR and smart home it has lost some momentum while it perfects its next devices.
Well, that's actually precisely the advice we were giving two years ago when it was spitting out too many smartwatches, none of which were getting anywhere. And we'd advise taking the same approach with the Gear VR - we've seen one too many iterations of the mobile headset in the past 12 months.
Where else is it catching up?
Samsung is also uncharacteristically quiet on the augmented/mixed reality battle that could dominate the next three to five years - perhaps it will throw its lot in with Facebook after the great Oculus/Samsung partnership.
There's standalone VR too. HTC Vive and Daydream announced a standalone headset alongside teaser images at this year's Google I/O in May plus Lenovo is also set to build a standalone headset.
Gear VR is still the superior mobile VR platform, over Google's Daydream, but it's interesting that only now are we seeing a reference design - not a consumer product - for standalone VR from Samsung. Perhaps it's more concerned with pushing Galaxy smartphone sales for now. Clay Bavor promised we'd see the new Daydreams by the end of 2017 - we'd be surprised if Samsung matches that.
So the standalone Samsung is a prototype?
Yep, the Exynos VR III isn't going on sale anytime soon. Still, it could leapfrog HTC on the tech with eye tracking, hand tracking, facial and voice recognition all onboard in this iteration.
That's more like it
It really is. Just last week Samsung was reportedly showing off super high resolution 858 and even 1,200 ppi displays with its sights apparently set on 2,000 ppi. Plus with VR playing a big part in Samsung C-Labs and innovations like the Monitorless glasses, Gaze-it and Touch on the Brain virtual reality interfaces, Samsung has no shortage of new ideas to draw upon.
Where is Samsung winning?
In smartwatches of all places. Thanks mainly to strong Gear S3 sales, it actually managed to bump Fitbit out of second place for sales in the first three months of 2017. So Samsung now has 12.8% of all wearable tech sales, according to Strategy Analytics estimates, with Apple in first place with 53% of sales and Fitbit in third with 12.2%.
So when will it be back on top?
We're not sure it will ever beat Apple on smartwatches but in VR particularly, we're not worried by the lack of innovation we've seen recently - there's plenty to come. Samsung hasn't totally abandoned its wacky side either, with C-Labs showing off new ideas every couple of months and even a new patent for a circular camera watch.