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Samsung’s big smart home advantage over Google, Amazon and Apple

Samsung is to introduce its own smart speaker, taking on Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod. And the South Korean conglomerate has big ambitions, pushing hard to ensure its own product is made available as soon as possible.

Samsung smart speaker release date

Speaking to CNBC, DJ Koh, president of Samsung Mobile, did not reveal a specific availability timeline.  However, Koh stated an announcement could be made in the not-too-distant future.

“Maybe soon we will announce it,” he said. “I am already working on it.”

With products like Google Home and Amazon Echo already available to buy, Samsung is behind its competitors in this area. Koh made it clear that his company is working at an aggressive pace to develop its own smart speaker.

“As I mentioned I wanted to provide a fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices, and I want to be moving quite heavily on it,” he said.

Bixby integration

For a company of Samsung’s size, with sufficient resources made available, developing the necessary hardware should be a relatively straightforward task.

But hardware is not the only factor that will determine just how quickly Samsung is able to release a product on to the market. Making sure the software performs well will be the more challenging task.

Earlier this year, Samsung launched its own voice assistant called Bixby, going head-to-head with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. Although Koh did not confirm that Samsung’s smart speaker will be built around Bixby, this is by far the most likely route the company will take.

The initial releases of Bixby – for the Samsung Galaxy S8 – were generally regarded as not performing as well as rival platforms. Samsung’s early struggles demonstrated the challenges involved in developing a comprehensive voice recognition system.

Samsung is focussing on making Bixby available in a greater number of languages, in addition to improving the recognition of local dialects. As multi-language development intensifies, the challenges for Samsung’s software engineers become ever-greater.

Samsung’s advantage over Google, Amazon and Apple

Where Samsung has an advantage over Google, Amazon and Apple is that the South Korean conglomerate has a large portfolio of products that could potentially become part of a smart home. In addition to the likes of smartphones and TVs, Samsung also makes a large number of domestic appliances.

It is highly unlikely that Google, Amazon or Apple will start developing their own washing machines and refrigerators anytime soon. In order to establish a sizeable share of the smart home market, the companies would need to persuade other organisations to integrate their voice assistant into products.

Apple is likely to tackle its market penetration disadvantage by focussing on integration and profitability.

However, both Google and Amazon have taken a more open approach with their voice assistants. Of the two, it is Amazon that has been the more successful in broadening its reach.

Amazon has a agreed a deal with United States retailer Sears, which will see Alexa integrated into Kenmore-branded appliances. The ecommerce giant has also secured other similar agreements with companies like HTC and Lenovo.

Samsung does not have the same need to pursue such deals, given that it already has such a comprehensive product offering of its own.

More significantly, though, Samsung’s position gives it control of both the hardware and software. It is a dynamic that has been credited with making a very important contribution to Apple’s success.