Following the launch of Bixby voice assistant in U.S. English, there has been a lot of speculation with respect to Samsung's enthusiasm towards developing an AI speaker. Some believe that Samsung is not currently very interested in the development an AI speaker because its global market is quite tight. Amazon Echo currently holds over 70% share of AI speaker global market with Google Home also clinching onto a fair share. Locally, the Korean market has strongly rooted SK Telecom’s NUGU with around 100,000 units of sales.
An anonymous source told The Korea Herald that
“Samsung currently does not view AI speakers as marketable, as the global market is already dominated by unbeatable Amazon and the Korean market is too small to make profits...More importantly, Samsung cannot afford to focus on the uncertain market, as most of its AI specialists - whose number is much less than that of the US tech giants -- are currently going all out to develop the Bixby version in English,” the source added "Although the Korean tech giant may not launch its own AI speaker anytime soon, it is preparing for AI speakers by testing out the technology for some of its appliances, such as smart refrigerators, in case the market begins to take off",
Kim Jong-ki, a researcher specializing in the mobile industry at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade said that
“Samsung may take a wait-and-see attitude rather than hurriedly jumping into the uncertain market with a new device, whose functions are no different from existing devices by rivals,”
With an AI speaker, users can play music or provide information with their voice. Amazon Echo was the first to penetrate the AI global market in 2014 and since then Google Echo is slowly picking momentum with HomePod and Invoke from Apple and Microsoft respectively getting set for release later this year. Just as the global market is 'impenetrable", the Korean local market is not any lighter. NUGU from SK Telecom and GiGA Genie from KT are already present in the market while online firms Naver and Kakao are slated to unveil their own AI speakers later this year.