Samsung has been widely reported to be developing a smart speaker product similar to the Amazon Echo that would be powered by Samsung’s voice-activated Bixby virtual assistant, but recent reports suggest the company is no longer pursuing such a plan, according to The Next Web, which credited the Korea Herald with the original report.
The Korean mobile smartphone maker recently announced support for the Bixby assistant in its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices in the U.S. and South Korea. Bixby capabilities were supposed to have been available in these devices a few months earlier, according to Consumer Reports and other sources.
The worldwide market for smart speakers is expected to be worth $13 billion by 2024, according to a new Global Market Insights study cited by The NextWeb.
It is not clear that Samsung ever confirmed speculation that it was developing a smart speaker, or that it publicly offered any specific details about such a product on its own. Although, despite this week's reports, it's not possible to say whether Samsung will develop such a product in the future.
What is clear is that the smart speaker market is heating up. Amazon got a massive head start, and the company has continued to dominate the market with as much as 70% market share while also forging ahead to improve and expand Echo offerings. But buzz about competing products is rising.
Most recently, Alibaba announced plans for a smart speaker product, but Apple also has been working on bringing Siri to the planned Apple Homepod device. Then, of course, there's Google Home, which has been around for a while. Something all of these companies, Amazon included, have in common, is that they are each giants in their own native market segments. The same could be said of Samsung, which continues to be the Amazon/Apple/Alibaba/Google of Android smartphones.
For that reason alone, it's a natural move for Samsung to roll with companies of its ilk and compete in the smart speaker market. When you consider it already has developed Bixby, the virtual assistant that could drive a Samsung smart speaker, it seems like a no-brainer. Will Samsung change its mind as the market for smart speakers takes off? Perhaps it's waiting for more evidence that will happen, but in the meantime it will lose ground to competitors, all of whom are still looking to catch up to Amazon.