With Apple’s announcement of its new HomePod device, the smart speaker wars are heating up and now reports indicate that Samsung is also developer a smart speaker of its own to house its virtual assistant Bixby. Early last month, Patently Mobile reported that Samsung won a design patent for an audio device with a display. And as of today, The Korea Herald is also reporting that Samsung is working on a Bixby-enabled smart speaker.
Samsung’s Bixby Speaker: What We Know So Far
The patent shows an audio device which appears to have a display similar to that of the Echo Show, a narrow base stand and tripod. If indeed this is the initial design of a smart speaker, one could conclude the device will be able to do everything Bixby can do like report the weather, find movie times and set calendar appointments. The addition of a screen also indicates that the smart speaker will leverage Bixby’s visual capabilities of being able to recognize physical objects like places, text, images and retail products. Digital Trends points out that the speaker could potentially support media casting like Google Cast’s on Google Home. Already, Samsung’s Smart View app for iOS and Android lets you beam content from providers like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and your phone’s local media; and channels from TV Plus, Samsung’s Fandango-powered streaming channels.
A New Competitor to the Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod?
Samsung already has the components it needs to make a successful smart speaker like hardware experience, a capable virtual assistant (maybe) and a large built-in user base for Bixby. What’s surprising is that it took them this long. Reports indicate that it could launch as soon as this fall, but given its trouble launching Bixby on the Galaxy S8, I do not believe that timeline is feasible. But with Apple set to ship the HomePod this December, Samsung could want to get ahead of a least one competitor in the market. The big mystery that remains is how Samsung will price its new device. Will it competitively price its device to match that of the Echo Show? Or price it to position itself as a higher-end smart speaker to compete directly against Apple’s HomePod? Samsung has all the right ingredients to make an incredible competitor for its rivals, the question just remains which one it will go after first.