With Bixby still MIA, Samsung scrambling to build Apple HomePod competing smart speaker
On the heels of Apple's HomePod announcement, Samsung is said to be working on its own foray into the smart speaker space, although the South Korean company's voice-driven personal assistant, Bixby, hasn't even launched in the U.S.
Samsung's speaker accessory has been in the works for over a year under the codename "Vega," according to The Wall Street Journal. It remains unclear when the device could launch, but expansion into the space would allow the company to compete with the likes of Amazon's Echo lineup and Apple's forthcoming $349 HomePod.
But there's a wrinkle: Samsung's voice control platform, Bixby, apparently doesn't understand English very well. That has led to multiple delays from the platform's originally intended May launch date, with The Korea Herald citing Samsung's lack of access to big data.
Bixby is intended to be Samsung's competitor to Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant.
For now, Bixby is only available in Korean, and Samsung has not provided an updated timeline on when the platform may launch in the U.S. and elsewhere. This despite the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S8, which launched all the way back in April, has a dedicated physical Bixby button that is essentially useless for customers outside of Korea.
Those issues are said to have hampered development of the "Vega" speaker project, which sources told the Journal could ultimately be scrapped, just like a previous internal effort at a smart speaker dubbed "Hive." Still, with Apple entering in the space and Amazon gaining traction, sources indicated that Samsung is expected to press forward with the initiative.
The report suggested Samsung's product could be more akin to an Amazon Echo, which prioritizes voice controls over sound quality. Apple, on the other hand, has taken a different approach, pitching the HomePod as a premium music accessory with superior quality sound that just so happens to also include Siri.
Set to begin shipping this December, Apple's HomePod will feature an A8 chip and boast realtime acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancelation. It will be 7 inches tall, with 7 tweeters and a dynamic modeling subwoofer enclosed under a 3D mesh acoustic fabric.
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