In early May, word got out that Samsung was testing self-driving car technology, which may have been perceived as yet another way to copy Apple. At the time, I joked that Samsung would probably also launch a Bixby-enabled Echo rival, but only after Apple unveiled its then-rumored Siri speaker. In early June, Apple introduced that device, now known as HomePod, and now a month later word has gotten out that Samsung is indeed working on a Bixby speaker. Quelle surprise!
The home assistant business is already getting crowded, with Amazon positioned as the unexpected leader, and Google taking a distant second spot. Given the popularity of Alexa, we shouldn’t be surprised to see tech giants chase after Amazon. But is it really a coincidence that Samsung’s rumored to launch such a product after the HomePod was unveiled?
Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is working on a voice-activated speaker powered by Bixby. However, at this time, it’s unknown when the device will be released, what operating system it’ll run, and how much it’ll cost. The project is known internally as “Vega.”
Bixby, you see, is yet to make a proper debut in English on the Galaxy S8, and that launch was already delayed. The report does note that the English version of Bixby isn’t likely to arrive until late July at the soonest. The initial rollout was planned for spring.
The Journal does say that Samsung has been working on such products for a few years. It planned to launch a product codenamed “Hive” back in March 2015 at the Mobile World Congress. But the project was apparently killed over voice recognition concerns.