Samsung Electronics mobile chief Koh Dong-jin (DJ Koh) is seeking "complete confidence" in the company's foldable smartphone project before he greenlights its commercialization, the executive told CNET on the sidelines of this year's Mobile World Congress. Mr. Koh confirmed the company is still actively developing such a creation but was vague on the details of the effort, having only said Samsung must be careful when launching a new product category so as to ensure it's properly introduced to the mainstream audience and minimize the risk of it being perceived as a gimmick.
The South Korean tech giant has a solid record with smartphone redesigns in recent years, with most of its major product changes such as AMOLED panels, curved displays, and bezel-less aesthetics resonating well with consumers and forcing its rivals to follow suit. While it wasn't the first to utilize an elongated display ratio, Samsung's 18.5:9 image format ended up being the one to popularize such slim form factors after being introduced with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus last year. The company just announced its latest mobile offerings in the form of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus but opted against significant redesigns, having instead decided to focus on improving the internal hardware and software of its Android flagships. The Galaxy Note 9 set to be launched in late summer is expected to feature a similar aesthetic and performance enhancements.
Mr. Koh also confirmed Samsung is still working on its Bixby-powered speaker, reiterating plans to launch it at some point this year. The Seoul-based original equipment manufacturer is currently expected to introduce its first artificial intelligence speaker in the second half of 2018 but has yet to set a precise launch window as the gadget is understood to still be in active development. The device is being jointly developed with Harman International Industries which Samsung bought in mid-2017 for $8 billion as part of its largest foreign acquisition to date. The tech giant is likely to expand its Bixby push beyond smartphones and speakers over the course of this year as it's still adamant to position its digital assistant as the start of an entirely new product ecosystem.