- Samsung unveiled a smart speaker called Galaxy Home that will rely on the company’s Bixby digital assistant to respond to voice commands, per Variety. The latest version of Bixby is more conversational and can maintain a dialog for follow-up questions. Third-party apps like Yelp, Uber, Ticketmaster, Fandango, OpenTable and Google Maps also work with Samsung’s voice platform, per TechCrunch.
- The tech giant also announced a partnership with Spotify and is planning to integrate the streaming service into a range of devices that includes phones, TVs and the Galaxy Home.
- Samsung made the announcements at its Unpacked event that also showcased the flagship Galaxy Note 9 smartphone that goes on sale August 24. Adobe announced Adobe Scan for Bixby Vision, which gives the smartphone's camera the ability to recognize documents and open them in the Adobe Scan app, according to a statement.
Like Apple, Samsung is a late entrant into the smart speaker market that Amazon and Google have dominated for the past couple of years. Amazon shipped 4 million of its Echo smart speakers in Q1 2018, while Google shipped 2.4 million Google Home devices, according to an estimate by researcher Strategy Analytics. But there's still room for growth in the broader smart speaker market. Global shipments nearly quadrupled (rising 287%) to 9.2 million units in Q1 2018 from a year earlier, per Strategy Analytics. As the holiday season approaches, shoppers can expect to see more promotions for the devices.
Sales of the Galaxy Home will likely hinge on how well Samsung's Bixby digital assistant measures up to Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri. Samsung can strengthen its pitch for consumers that haven't yet purchased smart speakers by making Bixby more conversational and integrating popular services like Uber, Ticketmaster and Spotify.
Samsung's partnership with Spotify is notable because the company struggled to develop a strategy for music streaming. The electronics giant in 2014 launched Milk Music as a Pandora-like, free, personalized radio service, only to shut it down two years later, per Variety. Samsung had considered buying music streaming service Tidal, and last year made Google Play Music its default music service, per a blog post by Google.
For Spotify, the partnership with Samsung means reaching a potential audience of millions of devices worldwide as it attempts to fend off Apple Music, which comes preinstalled on every iPhone and iPad. Spotify last month said its ad-supported monthly users had reached 101 million in Q2 2018 while paid subscriptions had reached 83 million. Spotify forecast that its paid subscribership will reach 85 million to 88 million by the end of next month, per CNBC.
Samsung in Q2 2018 remained the leader in the worldwide smartphone market despite a 10.4% decline in shipments from the prior year, per International Data Corp. The researcher estimated that Samsung shipped 71.5 million smartphones in Q2 2018, compared with 79.8 million a year earlier. Its biggest competitor wasn’t Apple, though: Chinese smartphone maker Huawei overtook Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone maker, shipping 54.2 million smartphones for a 15.8% market share globally in the quarter.