- Samsung opened its version of an app store for Bixby, its virtual assistant that seeks to take on Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in the growing market for voice-powered technology. The Bixby Marketplace gives Samsung users in the U.S. and South Korea more software choices to customize the digital assistant, per an anouncement.
- The Marketplace offers Bixby "capsules," as its voice-powered apps are called, including Google Maps, Spotify, iHeartRadio, NPR and Yelp. The store resembles other app stores that provide staff picks, user reviewers and app categories to help discover the latest capsules.
- Samsung is promoting Bixby with a customization feature that lets users set an app as the most preferred choice for certain voice requests. Developers will continue to add more capsules over the next few months, per the release.
Samsung has a lot of work ahead to boost adoption for Bixby amid a crowded field of digital assistants from major rivals like Amazon, Apple and Google. Only 4% of U.S. adults said they used Bixby on their smartphone, compared with 44% who used Apple's Siri and 30% who used Google Assistant, according to a survey last year. An app store could eventually help Samsung make inroads in the market.
However, software development hasn't been one of Samsung's strengths with its dependence on Google’s Android mobile operating system to power its smartphones and the holdup creating Bixby. The company last month delayed the release of its Galaxy Home smart speaker until the current quarter, missing the earlier promised shipment date of April. The wait has given competitors like Amazon, which again will heavily promote its Alexa-powered Echo line of smart speakers during its Prime Day shopping event this month, more time to grab market share.
Still, all Samsung phones come preinstalled with Bixby, giving the voice-assistant an automatic edge over competitors. Samsung commands 23% of the global smartphone market, according to researcher IDC, although it faces significant competition from lower-cost Chinese rivals. As part of an aggressive effort to expand Bixby's capabilities, the company in April added Bixby support to its Galaxy ear buds and in May launched the Bixby Premier Developer Program.
Bixby's adoption has a positive outlook with the growth of voice-assistant use. Overall usage is predicted to jump threefold to 8 billion by 2023 from 2.5 billion at the end of 2018, Juniper Research forecast.