Samsung hasn’t yet managed to shake the lackluster reputation of its Bixby digital assistant, especially when compared against rivals Google Assistant, Alexa, and even Siri. But the company is apparently pressing on with the idea of putting Bixby into a smart speaker that will resemble the Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod in concept.
The Wall Street Journal’s report on a foldable smartphone from Samsung also offers some new information on the speaker project. Samsung is expected to announce its device within the next month. If true, the likely launch target would be August 9th, which is Samsung’s Unpacked event for the Galaxy Note 9. It seems the company is planning some other surprises, based on this report. The rumored price? $300.
Bixby aside, for $300 this speaker better sound good
According to the Journal, Samsung’s speaker “has a bowled shape, with a legged bottom and lights at the top.” Like Apple, Samsung reportedly plans to market its product first and foremost as a premium speaker, with the “smart” features as an added convenience. The Bixby speaker is said to feature “sound shifting, where the speaker’s audio can be beamed in the direction of a person providing verbal commands.” It’s also likely to serve as a hub for the company’s SmartThings ecosystem of smart home gadgets. Samsung has released high-end home speakers before, such as the Radiant360.
But as it enters the smart speaker market, Samsung faces heavy competition at a range of prices. Its tag of $300 would undercut the Apple HomePod speaker ($350) and Google’s $400 Home Max, but it’s still well above the $100 Amazon Echo and is even more expensive than established premium speakers like the Sonos One, which offers Alexa voice support.
Bixby’s main strength on Samsung smartphones is its ability to adjust granular settings or progress through several screens to perform actions — like posting a gallery photo to Instagram — that Google Assistant cannot. But on a speaker? We’ll have to see what sets it apart.
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