Samsung Bixby’s Advantage in the Voice-First World
Can Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby, compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant?
It’s one of the questions developers will ask themselves as Samsung seeks adoption for its version of voice apps called “capsules”. To build this awareness and adoption, Samsung is hosting a cross-country developer series for third-party developers to learn how to create capsules. In light of this, we looked into Samsung’s competitive advantage as it relates to the other tech giants in this space.
It all began for Bixby when the service was initially launched in 2017. Soon after the release, Samsung decided to reevaluate its approach to voice and the user experience. Instead of using voice as an input to navigate a traditional touch screen interface, Samsung decided to make Bixby a true AI interface. Making this move set up Samsung to introduce Bixby 2.0, an intelligent voice service that learns user patterns, offers personalized services, and connects to third-party apps.
While the reintroduction of Bixby provides a platform for third-party developers, the voice assistant itself has a lot of catching up to do in market penetration. According to Microsoft’s 2019 Voice Report on consumer adoption, with findings based on two separate consumer-focused surveys, Bixby doesn’t register as a competitor to the list of voice assistants.
Image Credit: Microsoft 2019 Voice Report
To catch up with these numbers, Samsung has made several bold moves. Remember Apple’s major announcement for Siri as a core piece of iOS back in 2011? One of the founders behind Siri, Adam Cheyer, left Apple to start Viv Labs, which was acquired by Samsung in 2016. It’s not a coincidence that Samsung would later reintroduce Bixby with the intelligent interface Viv Labs developed. It’s a clear indication of the investment Samsung is making into Bixby to create a world-class voice service.
With a competitive road ahead for Samsung in a crowded field of voice assistants, here are five reasons Bixby can still find its way among the winners in the space:
The first advantage for Samsung is the potential penetration with mobile devices. The company has consistently outperformed its competitors as the #1 hardware manufacturer for mobile devices with a whopping 23% market share worldwide.
When we look at the competitors in the mobile space with their voice assistants, the success varies:
Amazon relies on the Alexa Companion App after a failed launch of the Fire Phone;
Microsoft relies on Cortana as an app after they discontinued their line of Windows Mobile for lack of penetration and developer interest;
Apple has continued its success with the limited feature set of Siri as the default voice assistant for iOS; and
Google has dominated with Android OS and close to 80% of market share with Google Assistant baked in. They also have their dedicated line of phones, the Pixel.
The smart home is a strategic landscape for voice services to control and navigate since home automation has taken off in recent years. Amazon and Google’s smart home integration is a major selling point for their voice services. Amazon even went as far as announcing an Alexa-enabled microwave in late 2017, its first-ever Amazon-branded kitchen appliance.
Samsung’s not-so-secret competitive advantage is its long history of building appliances, starting with their first refrigerator in 1974. The company is the world leader with one-fifth of all refrigerators, washing machines, and microwaves sold. Instead of convincing third-party appliance brands to incorporate Bixby, Samsung can just call upon its own internal teams to make the move.
While smart speakers live in 28% of households across the U.S., Samsung has yet to release their own. Last year, Samsung announced the Galaxy Home speaker and more recently, the FCC approved for a smaller speaker to compete with the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini. Despite lagging behind in releasing a smart speaker, Samsung still has room to catch up, as the market is poised to grow substantially to 75% of smart speaker ownership by 2025.
The Galaxy lineup of watches and headphones for Samsung is most notably one of the main competitors to the Apple Watch and Airpods. While recent news reports show other companies announcing their first wearables, Samsung’s consumer adoption is already strong. Samsung’s inevitable Bixby functionality in their wearables could pave the way to broader consumer adoption.
It’s evident that Samsung has a massive portfolio of products - but did you know the company once started and owned a subsidiary called Samsung Motors in 1994? While this now exists as Renault Samsung Motors (RSM) in South Korea, it hasn’t stopped the company from expanding abroad. A 2017 acquisition of Harman International Industries expanded Samsung’s auto presence around the world.
Harman, widely known to consumers for high-end speakers, partners with BMW, Volkswagon, and Toyota for their infotainment systems, among other technology, in over 25 million vehicles. Samsung and Harman have taken it one step further to announce the “Digital Cockpit” platform - the cherry on top? The platform comes with support for Bixby.
The Core Difference
Samsung itself differs with its long history as a hardware manufacturer that sets it apart from the competition. Amazon with its origin as an e-commerce giant didn’t introduce its first hardware product, Kindle, until 2007. With Google’s roots as a search engine, they also didn’t introduce their first piece of hardware, the Nexus One, until 2010 when they partnered with Samsung. Fundamentally for Samsung, producing global hardware products has been their core focus longer than a few of the competitors have even existed.
Samsung has all of the pieces to compete and put Bixby in front of the consumer. The recent announcement of the Bixby Marketplace connects consumers and third-party developers in an enticing way. Will it be enough to convince developers to build Bixby Capsules? Share with us your thoughts or open up the conversation with us on Twitter by tweeting us, @JargonJourney.
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