Samsung appears to be completely unconcerned about getting a late start in the AI digital assistant market that is still very much in its infancy, according to Viv Labs CEO and Samsung Electronics VP of Mobile R&D Dag Kittlaus. Speaking during this year's target="_blank" rel="noopener">Samsung Developer Conference keynote address, Mr. Kittlaus highlighted that fact by asking the audience to try and recall as many search engines from 1998 as possible. That's the year that Google first introduced its own take on the web tool and, for most people, it may come as a surprise that there were no fewer than 14 competitors in search at the time. The implication of the question, however, is that the circumstances are similar. For AI, there are still many companies working at the global level to innovate and drive the industry forward. What’s more, the market hasn’t quite reached a point where one company has a Google-like lead over the competition.
However, the example also underpins exactly how the company plans to overtake the competition and make gains. Referring to Google's entry into the search market and Amazon’s retail presence as game-changing, Mr. Kittlaus said that the market is immature and that "the time to dive in is now." Over the course of 5-years, the executive continued, the technology has gone from nonexistent to being in nearly half of all households, marking the present as a kind of tipping point for when the tech becomes truly ubiquitous. So getting into the market at this point and pushing forward with rapid innovation and new ideas will be hugely consequential and that’s something the company says will apply to developers as well. To that end, the company has built its new Bixby iteration from the ground up and is calling on its relatively large base of developers to take advantage of its now-open Bixby developer kits, APIs, and hundreds of millions of Samsung devices shipped annually.
Background: News that Samsung would be opening up its Bixby developer tools to third-party developers was made public just before Mr. Kittlaus took the stage at Samsung's annual event. The company also announced at the time that it would be opening development more widely to third-party manufacturers, which gives those developers that do start developing on the platform a rapidly growing audience in the future. Supporting the endeavor, the company will be investing $22 billion in its AI over the next two years as well as hiring more than 1,000 experts in related fields and expanding the platform to all of its electronics. Prior to the announcements, Bixby has chiefly been a supplementary artificial intelligence mostly accessed through its top-selling flagship devices. Perhaps more importantly, it had been relatively limited in functionality and drawn both heavy criticism and applause as a result.
Impact: With this latest announcement, Samsung says it is hoping to inspire developers to help drive its AI brand into a position that is not only competitive with but overshadows and dominates other platforms. More directly, it appears as though the company is looking to position Bixby as the de facto name in the industry - in a way that's reminiscent to how users performing a web search will refer to the task as "Googling." Whether or not its efforts truly pay off remains to be seen but the tech giant's promised investments in the technology and recent statements leave no question about its intentions.