Report: Samsung Doesn't See AI Speakers As 'Marketable'

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Samsung Electronics currently doesn't see Internet-enabled speakers with artificial intelligence (AI) assistants as "marketable," one source familiar with the company's thinking said on Wednesday, adding that the South Korean consumer electronics manufacturer may not release an AI speaker for the foreseeable future due to that belief. Apart from promotional issues, Samsung reportedly doesn't think it can overtake a significant share of the U.S. market from Amazon that's currently dominating the segment with its Echo product lineup, whereas it sees its home country as being too small of a market to justify significant investments in research, development, and marketing, the source said. Even SK Telecom's NUGU service that's currently leading the consumer AI market in Korea only recorded around 100,000 sales to date and Samsung is seemingly reluctant to commit a large volume of resources to the Far Eastern country as it doesn't believe it can recoup that investment anytime soon, the insider claims.

Another problem reducing the possibility of Samsung launching an AI-enabled speaker in the near future is its own manpower, as Samsung's AI experts are all currently said to be focused on developing Bixby and the company reportedly doesn't have enough of them to simultaneously develop two sizeable projects. While Samsung has been putting a larger focus on AI in recent years, its hiring practices are yet to reflect that as the firm is still believed to be lacking behind U.S. tech giants like Google and Amazon in this department.

The so-called Project Vega that the Seoul-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has been developing for over a year now may not be actively pursued at this point in time if recent reports are to be believed. Samsung was rumored to be working on a competitor to the Google Home and Amazon's Echo series for months and has even trademarked what could be a name for its upcoming AI service — Samsung Hello — but the company's technical struggles that delayed the launch of the English version of Bixby Voice indicate that the OEM still has a long way to go before it becomes a major player in the consumer-oriented AI industry. The Korean firm is now reportedly adamant to wait for the market to become more mature before deciding on a new course of action, especially as insiders claim that the aforementioned Vega prototype is largely similar to its already commercialized alternatives.

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