Samsung may be struggling to get its Bixby voice assistant to understand English on its flagship smartphone, but it seems that isn’t preventing it from planning a standalone speaker based on the same technology.

The company is today reported to be working on a Bixby speaker …

The WSJ report seemingly confirms earlier rumors.

Samsung is developing a voice-activated speaker powered by its digital assistant Bixby, according to people familiar with the matter, joining a proliferating arms race in tabletop devices.

The timing is far from determined, the people said. The English-language version of Bixby has been delayed and they said many of the speaker’s features and other specifications are yet to be decided. But the project—internally code-named “Vega”—has been going on for more than a year, several of the people said.

The company would be launching its speaker into an increasingly crowded market, currently dominated by Amazon’s Echo – which holds a 70% market share – with the rest mostly held by Google Home. Microsoft has also announced a Cortana-based Invoke speaker to be launched in the fall, with Apple’s Siri-powered HomePod set for release in December, both of which should further stir up the market.

Samsung is said to have already shelved earlier plans for a different speaker, due to voice recognition problems.

Vega is only the latest of Samsung’s speaker projects, which go back years, according to people familiar with the matter. The company had once planned to debut one code-named “Hive” in March 2015 at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, the people said, but it was quietly shelved over software issues including problems with voice recognition.

The same issue is rumored to be delaying the rollout of the English language version of Bixby to the company’s Galaxy S8 smartphone. Even once this problem is solved, it’s unclear how effectively Samsung’s speaker could compete against existing products.


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