There has probably been more written about how to disable it than how to make use of it, but Bixby, Samsung’s new digital assistant, isn’t going anywhere. That was made more evident by a Bloomberg report that alleges we will see a Bixby-powered smart speaker in 2018.
According to the report, the smart speaker will not feature a display, though the lights at the top of the device indicate some level of visual feedback. Samsung reportedly plans to sell the device, which sits somewhere between Amazon’s 2nd-generation Echo and Apple’s upcoming HomePod, in multiple colors, including matte black.
As for functionality, the smart speaker will reportedly run Bixby, though it sounds like Samsung is still fine-tuning its ability to carry out voice-based web searches. That is something Samsung will need to nail if it ever hopes for Bixby to take on the likes of Alexa, Google Assistant, and even Siri.
Elsewhere, the smart speaker will reportedly let you control various smart home appliances through Samsung’s SmartThings, which the company acquired back in 2014 and has put to some measure of use with its devices. We presume that it’s the smart speaker’s use of SmartThings that will allow it to synchronize with Samsung’s televisions, smartphones, refrigerators, and more.
According to the people briefed on the plans, Samsung is still unsure as to when to release the smart speaker and how much the company should charge for it. Samsung reportedly eyes a release sometime in the first half of 2018, with the device possibly going for around $200.
For me, the problem here isn’t the price point — I think $200 is somewhat above the sweet spot — but its late arrival to the party. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home smart speakers are well-established at this point, and Samsung will have to prove why its device is more expensive than some of the competition.
Also, Bixby doesn’t have the greatest reputation, nor is it as recognized as Alexa and Google Assistant.
That being said, if Samsung continues to work out Bixby’s kinks and can deliver on the smart speaker’s reported emphasis on sound quality, the company might have a winner on its hands. Let us know in the comments if you plan on picking up Samsung’s Bixby-powered smart speaker when it goes on sale.