You don’t always have to be the first to be successful with a product. It has often been proven in the past: In 2003, Apple impressively blew away all other MP3 players that had been released up to that point. Volkswagen was late to the SUV party – and now it is highly successful in this segment with the Tiguan. But can Samsung still recover from its failed launch with Bixby if it wants to compete with other assistants?
“More haste, less speed”, “slow and steady wins the race”, “last to finish, first to succeed”... This is how I'm imagining the motivational speeches in Samsung’s Bixby department right now, because the intelligent voice assistant is simply not getting off the ground. Although a closed beta test took place in the USA just recently and registration had to be closed quickly, Samsung seems to lack the data it needs.
A Samsung source told the Korea Herald: “Developing Bixby in other languages is taking more time than we expected mainly because it needs more accumulation of data.” In plain English: Bixby users in the US market do not use the assistant often enough. Only through diligent use by as many users as possible can enough voice data be gathered to increase Bixby’s intelligence sufficiently. The end result: another delay of Bixby’s US launch on the Galaxy S8 devices.
Time is ticking for Samsung in more ways than one. Amazon was able to indirectly gather information via the voice searches from its Fire products right before the launch of the Echo and Echo Dot, giving Alexa sufficient data from the outset. Even Google—first with voice search, and later with the Assistant—and Apple with Siri have been building up their information treasure trove and increasing voice input recognition rates for years. So, Samsung needs to quickly eliminate the competition’s lead if it wants Bixby to succeed.
Is Bixby still irrelevant for Note 8 buyers?
Besides external competitive pressure, there is also in-house pressure – there are plans to ultimately roll out Bixby on additional products. Although the Galaxy Note FE can run Bixby, since Samsung currently sells the revamped Note 7 in South Korea only, the lack of English intelligence will not be resolved there. And the language deficiency still remains for the Galaxy Note 8, which is coming in a few weeks and expected to be introduced internationally like the Galaxy S8 and S8+. For the second time this year, Samsung’s national representatives had difficulty providing answers with regard to the Bixby hardware button.
Even if a restricted Bixby on the Galaxy Note 8 would leave a bad taste in users’ mouths, it shouldn’t affect Note 8 sales. Why, you ask? Fans of the Note series in the US are craving a new phablet with an S Pen, and they've been waiting a long time thanks to the Note 7 fiasco.
A limited Bixby would have more of a negative impact on Samsung’s supposedly planned (according to the Wall Street Journal) loudspeaker à la Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod. If Bixby’s internationalization encounters further delays, Samsung would have to scrap the global launch of the Bixby loudspeaker and go down the Amazon and Google route.
Samsung’s entry into smart home control depends on Bixby
Amazon’s Echo and even Google Home were, in fact, only launched in a few countries—such as the US—when they were introduced, but now there is less time. If Samsung loafs around too long now, then HomePods, Echos, and Homes will already be in too many living rooms. But the Koreans also have an ace up their sleeve for this case.
Bixby can not only be installed on the aforementioned Samsung devices, the assistant can also be installed on smart TVs, smart home devices and wearables via an update. And then Samsung’s tortoise could catch up to the quicker hare and even surpass Google, Apple and Amazon in the end, but only if Bixby has learned enough by then.
What do you think about Bixby’s future? Does Samsung’s assistant stand a chance against Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant or Amazon Alexa? Let us know what you think in the comments below.