Samsung confirms it's working on an Amazon Echo competitor

Source: Amazon
Amazon Echo

Samsung is working on a smart speaker that will be launched "soon", the company's mobile chief told CNBC, which will pit it against the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google, in the hotly-contested space.

DJ Koh, the president of Samsung's mobile division, said a smart speaker was on the way.

"Maybe soon we will announce it. I am already working on it," Koh told CNBC in an interview ahead of the Note 8 smartphone launch which took place on Wednesday.

And it appears the company could be moving fast on the product.

"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," Koh said.

Samsung has big ambitions in the smart home space, hoping to connect products from TVs and refrigerators. The idea is to have Bixby, the company's digital personal assistant at the center. On the flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone and Note 8 device, a function called Bixby Home is available. This allows people to connect their devices to the smartphone to be controlled via Bixby.

While Koh was not able to give further details on what the smart speaker product will look like or whether it will be powered by Bixby, it's clear that it fits into the company's broader home ambitions. A smart speaker product can be used to connect to lights, TVs, or even thermostats and could be controlled by voice.

The smart home vision is one that Amazon's Echo, Google Home, and Apple's HomePod all share. Samsung is now entering the young but highly-competitive market.

Last month, a Wall Street Journal story citing sources, suggested that Samsung was developing a smart speaker powered by Bixby with the codename "Vega". But the report suggested progress of the speaker had been held back by slow roll-out of the U.S. English language version of Bixby.

But Bixby is now available and on Tuesday, Samsung announced plans to expand the digital assistant to over 200 countries and territories.

Koh was unable to give a timeline of when the product could be unveiled, but no doubt Apple, Google, and Amazon will be watching closely.

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