Bloomberg Technology reported out that Samsung Electronics Co. is planning to introduce a Bixby powered smart speaker in the first half of 2018. The company is entering a market that is already replete with voice-controlled products from Amazon, Apple and Alphabet.
Sources that wished not to be named as these plans were still private said that the new smart speakers would run Bixby, Samsung’s digital assistant and rival to Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Alphabet’s Google Assistant. According to these sources, the company is planning on focusing on sound quality as well as controlling home systems such as locks, lights, etc. It will also be able to sync with TVs and other Samsung devices.
Samsung is planning to equal Apple’s HomePod, which supports all appliances in the home. This speaker will be able to the same thing for its range of devices and appliances, but goes one up as it includes its Samsung SmartThings in the list.
The smart speaker is going to be launched in multiple markets, and may even include the US market. The company is looking at a tentative price of about $200, which will put this device squarely between Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod. The Echo speaker is priced at $79 – $100, while the HomePod is slated to be priced at $349 when it also goes on sale next year.
Sources also mentioned that the plans for the release of this speaker are still fluid the company is still honing the device’s capabilities.
According to Gartner, wireless speakers enabled with virtual personal assistant (VPA) – smart speakers – are going to be a big thing in the near future. According to its press release, the firm believes that by 2021, this market will be worth $3.52 billion, which will be a huge jump from the 2016 valuation of $0.72 billion.
Research Director at Gartner, Werner Goetz stated that a market slowdown will be seen in 2018 as the ecosystem that can be connected to these smart speakers will be expanded to include lighting systems, hubs and Wi-Fi and other devices, which would make it a complete home management system.
The firm also said that by 2019, these devices will have inbuilt AI, which would enhance home security, latency and optimize bandwidth utilization. VPA is also expected to go beyond the home and open out into the enterprise level markets – to be used by hotels as well as healthcare centers. Ranjit Atwal, another research director at Gartner, states that smart speakers will see adoption in the healthcare industry. Remote diagnostics as well as applications for the care of the elderly will be enabled by smart speakers. Additionally, he foresees custom-made smart-speakers being rolled out in the retail sector as early as 2020. These devices could be used for self-service, self-payments and even voice-based shopping.
While Samsung and Apple are late entrants into a market currently dominated by pioneer Amazon and rival Alphabet, the potential in the market is such that the battle will be for who can provide the most holistic experience to the customer. Currently, Amazon earns revenue when people buy stuff from its online retail stores using VPA Alexa via the Echo gadget. Google’s smart speaker uses the company’s search engine to help sell music and music services.
Apple and Samsun plan to take the next step of evolution. Apple’s HomeKit home platform will be linked to the HomePod (Apples’ smart speaker) while Samsung will do the same with its smart speaker being linked to Samsung SmartThings.
While current fears of “intelligent devices” controlling our homes still remain, Gartner sees these fears being mitigated by 2020.