Sources say that Samsung Electronics is planning to launch a smart speaker in the first half of 2018.
According to Bloomberg Technology, the device will have a strong focus on audio quality and the management of connected home appliances, such as lights and locks.
The speaker will run Bixby, Samsung’s digital assistant that rivals Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. It will also synchronize with TVs, Galaxy smartphones and other Samsung devices and services, including SmartThings, which Samsung bought in 2014.
The company plans to make the device available in multiple markets, possibly including the U.S., and is considering a price point of around $200. Amazon’s flagship Echo speaker has a list price of $100, while Apple’s HomePod, which also has a sound quality focus, will cost $349 when it also goes on sale next year.
Samsung is still working on improving the device’s ability to conduct voice-based web searches. The company declined to comment on these reports.
In August, Samsung executive DJ Koh said the company was working on a smart speaker. Patrick Chomet, another Samsung executive who joined last year, is heading the project.
One source revealed that the prototype version of the Samsung speaker in testing is between the size of Amazon’s latest Echo and the HomePod. The company is considering releasing the speaker in different colors, and the prototype was seen to have a matte black color. Like the HomePod, it also lacks a screen but lights up on top for limited visual feedback.
According to Gartner, voice-activated speakers will become a $3.5 billion market by 2021, up from $720 million in 2016.