Samsung has officially confirmed that it is working on a competitor to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. The company made the reveal during the launch of its new flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile division, notes that the electronics giant hopes to have its smart speaker launch ‘soon’. This is in contrast to reports that claim Samsung recently cancelled its smart speaker project.

Rumours surrounding a Samsung smart speaker first surfaced in July, with reports claiming that it will use the Bixby AI. While Bixby has had a chequered history since its debut on the Galaxy S8, being only available in select markets, the company has finally confirmed that the smart AI will be available to the masses in the coming weeks.

Bixby vs Google Assistant vs Alexa

Bixby will have a steep hill to climb to have a chance of taking on the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. While the Bixby assistant makes sense on a smartphone, where it can perform any task that can be performed through touch, it will likely find extreme limitations in a smart speaker environment.

Some of these limitations include how users activate their smart assistants. While Google Assistant and Alexa can be activated using a simple voice command, like ‘OK Google’ or ‘Alexa’, Bixby cannot currently be activated via voice alone. Instead, users are required to press a button on the side of the device. This simply won’t work on a speaker, where people will expect to communicate with the device from the other side of the room.

There are serious concerns about Bixby’s abilities, however. Google and Amazon have had many months to build relationships with third-party developers and smart home manufacturers, meaning users have the ability to control a whole myriad of functionality. Samsung is essentially starting from square one.

Despite Google and Amazon’s head start in building relationships, Samsung does have an ace up its sleeve. That’s predominantly down to the company’s ownership of SmartThings, which has been tying together smart home devices from across the industry since its launch in 2012.

What’s certain is that Samsung will have to pull out all the stops to catch up with Google and Amazon. Those two manufacturers already command 18% and 82% of the smart speaker market, respectively, and show no signs of slowing down. With Google already planning more affordable versions of its smart speaker, Samsung will have to launch something incredibly special to win the hearts of consumers.

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