Ever since Samsung launched Bixby, there have been rumours that it's working on a smart speaker featuring the in-house AI - designed to compete with the likes of the Amazon Echo or Google Home. From the looks of things it's just about the most unanticipated device Samsung has produced, because nobody really likes Bixby, but that isn't stopping the company from trying anyway. Word is the speaker will be arriving at the same time as the Galaxy Note 9.
This news comes from the Wall Street Journal, whose sources claim the speaker will be launched on 9th August for an estimated price of $300 (£230). The report also claims Samsung will be following Apple's example and focussing on a smart speaker with superior audio quality, with the device having some sort of bowl shape and legs to prop it up. That audio quality also includes 'sound shifting', a feature that alters the direction of the audio to follow a person round the room - something that has been rumoured in the past.
Much of what the Wall Street Journal has said matches up with previous reports, though the quoted price is a bit odd. Samsung must be aware that Bixby doesn't have a very good reputation, especially with that dedicated button on Galaxy smartphones that can't do anything else. Launching Bixby 2.0 alongside the Galaxy Note 9 probably isn't going to be enough to change people's minds - especially with that price. Apple went for a premium smart speaker as well, and that hasn't worked out too well in the months since launch.
Basically, if Samsung wants people to take Bixby seriously it's going to have to do something to make them actually want to buy a device powered by the AI assistant. Focusing on sound quality is great, but there's a reason why people buy Echo Dots and Google Home Minis. They're cheap, and means if people impulse buy one and don't care for it they don't have nearly as much to lose. That's not likely to happen with a $300 device. [WSJ via Trusted Reviews]