Samsung could best do the Amazon Echo. Here's how – CNET

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Galaxy-home Mini

Galaxy-home Mini

Juan Garzon / CNET

The intelligent speaker The market has exploded over the past half a decade and has room for first-party devices from Amazon, Google and Apple as well as numerous third-party providers that use Alexa and Google Assistant.

Then there is Samsung.

Although Samsung's full-size Galaxy Home Smart speaker announced in February 2018 is still pending, it seems that the mini version of the speaker will actually be available soon. Photos and videos uncovered on Twitter ahead of today's Samsung Unpacked event show what a functional Galaxy Home Mini speaker looks like that houses Samsung's Siri equivalent Bixby.

Many details, such as the date of publication and the price, have yet to be published, but the general reality is clear: Samsung faces a difficult battle when it comes to Amazon and Google, whose voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant provide the majority of customers smart speakers in the US. This may still be a battle worth fighting, but the question is how well a Galaxy Home Mini speaker can hold its own against its more established competition.

Samsung Galaxy Home

Samsung's original Galaxy Home speaker has never been released.

Juan Garzon / CNET

Is that really such a good idea, Samsung?

Since 2018 we have known Samsung's ambitions to develop their own intelligent loudspeaker. In February of the same year, the cauldron-shaped Galaxy Home was unveiled at the end of August. While the Galaxy Home has never been on the market, we have known the smaller Galaxy Home Mini for some time thanks to its beta test in Korea last year. When this model would reach a wider audience is still unclear, but after the recent history of this weekend, it appears that the Home Mini will be on the market soon.

Bixby, the voice assistant who drives the speaker's smarts, has been around for longer than a less competitive Siri and Google Assistant competitor on Samsung phones. Despite the small size of Bixby's user base, Samsung continued to support and develop the wizard.

A long unpublished speaker and an unpopular voice assistant don't make the most appetizing technical assembly, but I would not write off Samsung's Galaxy Home speaker line yet.

Smart speakers have grown rapidly in private households, and Amazon said that in 2019 it doubled the total area of ​​its Alexa-powered devices to 200 million units sold worldwide. Despite this rapid growth, the category is still in its infancy compared to many other types of personal devices such as cell phones and laptops. Many people have not yet adopted the technology, and that means that some companies are trying to make claims in these unused households. Inexpensive speakers like Echo Dot from Amazon and Nest Mini from Google offer a cheap and easy way to try out this more sophisticated category.

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Apple's HomePod was released in 2018 with high sound quality and a price of $ 350.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Even Apple, which launched its $ 350 homepod in early 2018 and didn't gain much market share, could get into the budget game. An inexpensive entry-level model appears to be the key to spreading the technology at this stage.

So the Galaxy Home Mini is ready to enter a promising but turbulent market: one with a dominant Amazon, a competitive Google and a monetary Apple. Where's Samsung?

Because of Bixby's power alone, the Korean company seems unlikely to make a big claim in the U.S. But there could also be another way.

The power of us

At the same time, technology giants are trying to convert households, and many people are cautious when it comes to buying into ecosystems as early as possible. After all, tech giants like Google are notorious for killing devices and integrations within years of being sold.

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Amazon claims to have sold over 200 million Alexa devices.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

How do developers offer products that feel low-risk and yet offer all the expected benefits? Spokesperson Sonos did this by offering Google Assistant and Alexa support on the same device. But the Sonos One costs $ 200. If the Galaxy Home Mini with the voice support of all three reaches the price of $ 50 for an Echo Dot or Nest Mini, Samsung's late arrival at the smart home party could lead to a lucrative, dramatic appearance.

The possibility of such integration is unlikely, but not impossible. Blake Kozak, a smart home analyst at London-based market research firm IHS Markit, said: "It is quite possible that the Galaxy Home Mini will not only support Bixby, but also Alexa and Google Assistant … due to the increasing emphasis on For the SmartThings platform is likely to continue to use Bixby for platform-based controls, while the advanced features and functionality of Alexa or Google Assistant may be affected. "

Some of Samsung's latest entertainment devices also have voice controls from Alexa, Google Assistant and Bixby – all in one package. For Samsung, a continuation of this approach could transform agnostics from voice assistants, attract them with Google Assistant and Alexa, and then convince them in the long term with Bixby. (Samsung's spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.)

Perhaps more in a nutshell: If Samsung can't stand out from the competition (even if other assistants are added to its speakers), it risks repeating Bixby's lukewarm reception. We shouldn't write off Bixby and the Galaxy Home Mini yet, but Samsung still has to earn a place in a market with great potential and even more competition.