Samsung Finds its Online Voice

Article By : Rick Merritt, EE Times

Samsung made Bixby the heart of its developer event, but it faces stiff challenges competing with machine-learning and voice services from Web rivals.

SAN FRANCSCO — Samsung put its Bixby smart voice service at the heart of its vision for the future beyond smartphones at a developer’s conference here. The South Korean giant faces stiff competition from partner/rivals Amazon, Apple, Alibaba, Baidu and Google, each with its own voice-based machine-learning service.

The world’s largest semiconductor company is essentially joining a big-data race to capture the attention of consumers and developers. It’s broad line of chips and systems are its main weapons.

Bixby will move beyond Samsung’s smartphone next year to appear in all its U.S. and Korean TVs and at least some of its consumer appliances. Samsung also made its semiconductor IoT platform a full partner in its drive to connect both its internal and customer IoT systems to its cloud services.

Samsung originally developed Bixby in-house as a Siri-like interface with value-added features for its Galaxy smartphones. The Bixby 2.0 it will release late next year will combine its in-house work and the platform it acquired with Viv Labs, a startup founded by members of the team who developed Apple’s Siri.

The South Korean giant hopes it can be more open and innovative than its rivals. That will be a challenge given the leader in the field, Amazon has significantly more users than Bixby and an advanced OEM program with multiple companies including NXP and Synaptics selling chip sets for it.

So far, Bixby only works in English with plans next year for Chinese and four or five European languages. Alibaba and Baidu launched smart speakers for the Chinese language earlier this year, and Amazon has enabled more than 15 third-party products for Alexa in English and German, including the Huawei Mate 9 smartphone.

Perhaps Samsung’s biggest gap is online. Although it was only released this summer in Galaxy 8 and Note 8 smartphones, Bixby already has 10 million active users who have created online accounts.

By contrast, Amazon is estimated to have shipped more than 15 million of its Alexa smart speakers. The numbers of voice users pales compared to the billions of user accounts at Amazon, Google and other Web rivals.

 “We are late getting started compared to our competitors who have SDKs out,” said Brad Park, vice president of big data R&D in Samsung’s mobile division.

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With Bixby 2.0, Samsung aims to get designed into the devices and cloud services of a broad range of companies Click to enlarge (Images: EE Times)

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