It was a bit surprising that a multi-million dollar launch event like Samsung’s much-lauded Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco this week didn’t seem to warrant a smart home technology announcement. After the South Korean company unveiled four new Galaxy S10 smartphones, a revelatory 5G capability, the unprecedented Galaxy Fold foldable phone that basically transforms your smartphone into a tablet, Galaxy Buds designed to outstrip Apple’s funky Earpods, and three new smartwatches, Samsung elected not to update consumers on its long-awaited Galaxy Home smart speaker.
This device is the King Kong meant to match the Godzilla that is Amazon’s Alexa-powered line of smart speakers, not to mention the Mothra that is Google Home. You guys can decide which nuclear critter Apple’s HomePod gets to be.
Maybe it took cocktails. As it turns out, the head of Samsung’s mobile business, DJ Koh, let it slip to CNET after the event that that the fabled Galaxy Home smart speaker will launch by April. Was that so hard? You couldn’t have taken five minutes during your two-hour self-celebration to let us know your newest and potentially most powerful wingding was on its way?
The real key here is whether Samsung’s significant investment in time, resources, and technology to make its Bixby smart assistant, already onboard all of the aforementioned smartphones, has made it a competitive product compared to Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, not to mention their respective homes in Amazon’s Echo line, Google Home, and the troubled Apple HomePod and Sonos speakers.
Samsung has a way to go by any measurement. Surveys say that only four percent of U.S. adults accessing smart assistants on their mobile devices use Bixby, compared to 44 percent for Apple’s Siri, 30 percent for Google Assistant, and 17 percent for Amazon’s Alexa.
It’s pretty odd that Samsung didn’t even make a note about the Galaxy Home at its much lauded Unpacked event. The device was unveiled at a Samsung event last August, including a pretty sleek design that included six speakers, eight microphones and a subwoofer as well as a claim that the Samsung Galaxy Home will be “the only A.I. speaker that intuitively moves a wave of sound directly toward you when you ask it to. So no matter where you are in the room, you’ll find yourself immersed in sound.”
If that’s true, we should find out the real results sometime this spring. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung are in a real competition now when it comes to smart assistants, one that involves the evolution of artificial intelligence, the advancement of language processing, and the technology needed to process and produce sound.