Samsung confirms it's working on a new smart speaker to rival the Amazon Echo

Samsung's Radiant 360 speaker (...not its upcoming smart speaker)

Last month, details emerged of a smart speaker in development by Samsung, codenamed 'Vega'. Today, shortly before unveiling its new Galaxy Note8 flagship phone, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh confirmed the rumor to be accurate.

"Maybe soon we will announce it. I am already working on it," Koh told CNBC today - and it seems that it forms part of the company's broader 'smart home' vision. "As I mentioned I wanted to provide a fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices, and I want to be moving quite heavily on it," he added.

Koh did not explicitly confirm that the new speaker will use its Bixby assistant, but it seems certain that it will. Samsung is said to have big plans for Bixby at the heart of its customers' digital lives, and reportedly aims to put the assistant on a range of devices, including smart TVs, and even refrigerators.

But the company has plenty of work to do before its assistant is ready for such a broad range of responsibilities. Samsung announced this week that Bixby is now available in over 200 markets worldwide, but it's still only able to handle voice interactions in US English and Korean. And while it can be used on its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones - and soon on its Galaxy Note8 too - its development has reportedly been hindered by a lack of linguistic development specialists and resources.

There's still much that we don't know about Samsung's new smart speaker, but it will face significant competition from other major tech companies. In addition to the well-established Amazon Echo and Google Home, Samsung will also have to compete with its arch-nemesis, Apple, which will release its HomePod speaker in December. New speakers are also coming this year with Microsoft's Cortana assistant, including the Invoke from Harman Kardon - although given that Samsung now owns Harman, it's probably not too worried about the competition from that device.

Source: CNBC

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