A couple of months ago, Samsung announced the purchase of Viv, an artificial intelligence startup which developed a unique digital assistant capable of improving without human input. Not surprisingly, this acquisition prompted rumors that the upcoming Galaxy S8 will feature the said AI assistant. Samsung is still under pressure to deliver an incredible flagship following the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, so equipping its next high-end phone with a feature that can compete with the likes of Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri certainly seems like a sensible course of action for the largest phone maker in the world. However, if latest reports by industry analysts are to be believed, Samsung will have a hard time integrating Viv into the Galaxy S8.
The root of the problem dates back to 2014 when Samsung signed a patent-sharing agreement with Google. Namely, the said document allegedly had a non-compete provision which states that the South Korean company cannot offer any Android services that compete with Google's own products. Of course, provided that the tech giant wants to continue using Android. Richard Windsor, an industry analyst at Edison Investment Research, claims that due to the said deal Samsung signed with Google two years ago, the Seoul-based tech giant is unable to make some significant software changes to differentiate its products from competing smartphones. Windsor believes that Google will prevent Samsung from shipping the Galaxy S8 with Viv because the Mountain View company is already planning to equip Android with Google Assistant. Google's digital companion is currently only available on the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL, but the company is keen to ship it to other devices shortly. In fact, a simplified version of Google Assistant is already built into Google Allo, so the company could hypothetically use that fact to prevent Samsung from equipping the Galaxy S8 with Viv.
Neither Samsung nor Google responded to requests for comment on this report. However, as the Galaxy S8 is slated to be announced in early 2017, we're bound to know more soon. Now, if Windsor's prediction turns out to be correct, Samsung's mobile division may end up being in more trouble than it already is. After reportedly losing around $3 billion on two Galaxy Note 7 recalls, the largest phone maker in the world would certainly be happy to get back on track of releasing successful products, but that won't be easy if someone is stifling its innovation efforts.