Samsung indefinitely delays Bixby China launch, smart speaker project also put on hold
Just because US beta tests have been successfully completed, and local Galaxy S8 and S8+ users are finally starting to take full advantage of Bixby assistance in English, it doesn’t mean Samsung’s difficulties getting the in-house AI to truly compete with Alexa or Siri have all gone away.
There are still only two languages supported several months after the digital assistant’s commercial debut, with Chinese initially planned to join the party in June. That obviously hasn’t happened, and the crucial expansion to the world’s single largest smartphone market is at a standstill.
Even talking about a new ETA feels meaningless right now, as a key reason behind the undetermined delay is something decidedly out of Samsung’s control. Namely, “escalating diplomatic tensions between Korea and China”, and the latter’s recently revised cybersecurity laws restricting foreign storage of data generated domestically.
Add to the equation a general lack of big data resources and not enough linguistic specialists on the chaebol’s payroll, and the fiasco almost reaches spectacular proportions.
Another department where Bixby is reportedly not ready for primetime yet is in the smart speaker arena, as Samsung “cannot afford to focus on the uncertain market”, feeling there’s nothing it can do at the moment to challenge “unbeatable Amazon.”
Merely focusing on its homeland with an Echo and Apple HomePod-similar “AI speaker” at first isn’t an option either, as the market is “too small to make profits”, according to industry sources. Besides, SK Telecom’s NUGU has already achieved regional domination, convincing many early adopters to pull the trigger.
Bottom line, Samsung is likely taking a “wait-and-see attitude” with the rumored Project Vega, not looking for a public announcement and retail launch anytime soon.