Harman Kardon burst into the smart speaker news cycle last December when Microsoft said the company would make a Cortana-enabled smart speaker. We have only seen a prototype of that device to date, but Harman went ahead at IFA last week and announced two new smart speakers that included Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant respectively. This may be awkward considering that Harman is a division of Samsung which recently announced it would deliver a smart speaker of its own. And, that smart speaker will be driven by Samsung’s own AI-based assistant Bixby.
Samsung and Harman Executives Meet at IFA
The Korea Herald is reporting that Samsung and Harman executives met during the IFA conference in Berlin this week and discussed “ongoing collaboration” on a “Samsung AI speaker.”
Yoon Boo-keun, president and CEO of the consumer electronics business at Samsung Electronics, held a confidential meeting with Harman CEO Paliwal at a private venue set up by Harman exclusively for distributors and business partners.
‘A significant level of joint research and development of the device is underway,’ Paliwal said. ‘The Samsung speaker will have a better AI platform than Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.’
Maybe the Samsung speaker will be better than Google Assistant and Alexa. Given the challenges Bixby has faced with English that delayed the U.S. launch it seems hard to believe the AI will be better than that of the more established rivals. However, it may be better in Korean at launch and catch up or even surpass competitors over time. This sounds a lot like executives making sure they say the right things about their parent business even if the possibility is remote. I can’t wait to see Bixby really shine even though I am skeptical it can catch up to other AI-offerings in the near term. Maybe it will get a Viv integration to help the process along.