Appropriately, the timing of the device is far from ironed out. Samsung has had quite a few problems getting the voice-powered element of its Bixby smart assistant ready for Galaxy S8 consumers in the US after launching the device months ago. The report also states that the Bixby-powered smart speaker — codenamed “Vega” — has yet to finesse most of its feature set.
Apple, which previously expressed a lack of interest in the space in favor of boosting the capabilities of its phone-based Siri smart assistant, teased the HomePod at its latest developer conference. While the company’s AI limitations are pushing it to market the offering as a premium speaker with voice controls rather than as an always-on voice assistant, its $349 retail price will certainly place it in a different market than Amazon’s $49 Echo Dot and Google’s $129 Home smart speaker.
Even as Samsung looks to introduce what could be fairly criticized as a “me-too” device, Samsung may be positioned quite well depending on what it shows off. One of the most important areas of potential for smart speakers is fostering tighter functionality with users’ smartphones.
While Google has a massive amount of power thanks to its Android ecosystem, the Pixel is the only device it maintains complete control over. If Samsung manages to take this advantage and introduce notifications systems and handover capabilities between “Vega” and its Galaxy and Note devices, it has the potential to create a system that minimizes gimmicks and distinguishes itself.
Samsung has a ways to catch up in the voice-powered interface race, but perhaps it still has some tricks up its sleeves.