All Samsung-made appliances will be Internet-enabled and offer artificial intelligence capabilities by 2020, the company's new consumer electronics CEO Kim Hyun-suk said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. "I wonder why everyone is talking about speakers," remarked Mr. Kim in reference to the smart speaker segment, currently the fastest-growing category of consumer electronics by a significant margin, according to most industry trackers. While Samsung is also working on its first smart speaker featuring Bixby support and is planning on releasing the device in the second half of the year, its medium-term plans are much more ambitious and entail connecting every new appliance to the World Wide Web.
Samsung is presently selling half a billion consumer-grade electronic products on an annual basis and Mr. Kim sees all of those offerings as potential smart speakers, though it's unlikely that every one of its products launched prior to 2020 will eventually be updated with AI capabilities. The Seoul-based tech giant sees Bixby and AI in general as a major selling point of its connected home ecosystem and a natural fit for its already strong brand that consumers in most parts of the world are familiar with. A full-fledged AI ecosystem allowing smartphones, tablets, televisions, speakers, sound bars, refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, and other appliances to communicate with one another would also help Samsung compete with Amazon and Google in the smart speaker segment that's presently extremely fragmented, with only Sonos delivering an audio device that's compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant so far.
A comprehensive AI platform would also provide Samsung with a competitive edge over Chinese OEMs which can undercut the South Korean firm in virtually every electronics segment. Mr. Kim said that while Samsung's smart home push will be focused on Bixby, the company remains open to collaboration with Google, Apple, and other tech juggernauts with digital assistants of their own, though the executive hasn't elaborated to what degree would the firm be prepared to integrate third-party solutions into its own offerings. Samsung's growing AI ambitions recently led to the launches of new machine learning and general AI labs in Toronto, Moscow, and Cambridge, United Kingdom, all three of which were opened this month.