Samsung Could Take Over The Digital Assistant Market


Bixby on phones is just the beginning.

The world was shaken when Samsung decided to roll out their own digital assistant on their flagship Galaxy S8 phones. As in, it was shaken by the collective groan that the tech community let loose upon learning that it would even have it's own, dedicated button. But there's something else I believe it lurking beneath the surface.

Samsung is an enormous company, making everything from phones to vacuum cleaners to dishwashers. Notable missing, however, is any indication of a competitor to Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple's newly announced HomePod. Granted -- Bixby is fairly new, and is still learning. However given the wide range of products Samsung offers, the conclusion that is easy to draw is that they are planning on putting Bixby into their own home appliances, for a truly "smart" home.

Bixby itself is a fairly standard first generation virtual assistant. It can answer questions and control phone functions fairly well (including installing apps and changing system settings), but when put head to head with Google Assistant or Siri it falls a bit flat (you can check out MKBHDs comparison video here). The interface is very Samsung, not unattractive but not my personal taste. I especially like the Google Now-like interface (which it actually replaces on the S8), and believe it looks better if not as good as Google Now itself (Pixel XL owner here). However the interaction with the assistant itself definitely needs some work before I would consider it on par with it's competitors.

Already, many of their appliances are going "smart". They tout their smart fridges as being "Family Hubs" (trademarked, obviously), and run the Tizen operating system, an IoT operating system by the Linux Foundation. This means that they're already building off an open source project (which they already have a lot of experience with, launching phones running Tizen OS in India), and gives them a very, very good opportunity to implement Bixby. In everything. Smart ovens -- exist. Smart dishwashers -- why not. Would you like a smart vacuum cleaner? Consider it done. And they could all be running Bixby when Samsung decides it's smart enough.

Now -- the argument that Google, Amazon or Apple could take over your home with their products is there, however the problem with that is that they do not make every day appliances. Google has made some moves with Nest, and all three have assistant pods/bluetooth speakers, but it would take years for them to catch up to Samsung in terms of brand recognition in the appliances market. Not everyone needs a Google Home, but most people need a fridge, and that might happen to come with Tizen and Bixby. The average person may not have an Amazon Echo, but they'll probably have an oven, dishwasher, laundry machine... Perhaps not all, but at least one. And Samsung is well established.

So look forward to finally having a completely mic'd up home, courtesy of Samsung, listening, learning, adapting and assisting you every day. Whether or not it explodes (in popularity) we will see.