Samsung Electronics is expected to announce this week at an event in San Francisco that it’s opening Bixby, its voice-activated virtual assistant, to third-party app developers.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal late last week, Samsung is aiming to boost its voice-activated assistant that hasn’t taken off as much as rivals Alexa by Amazon, Siri by Apple and Google Assistant. During the event, Samsung plans to showcase how developers can create functions for Bixby, which the Wall Street Journal reported it calls capsules. The so-called capsules are like skills for Alexa, enabling people to order food, check the weather and hail a taxi with voice commands. Samsung is also expected to provide more details on a foldable screen smartphone, which is a tablet-sized handset that will be able to use three apps at the same time, noted the WSJ, citing people familiar with the matter. The paper noted that Samsung has held talks with YouTube, Alphabet and Netflix about how to optimize content for the device.
Samsung is hoping Bixby will be able to take on the leaders, which combined already control billions of devices that react to voice commands and are connected to the Internet. Samsung is late to the party, but the WSJ noted it has a big advantage over some of its rivals: it sells half a billion televisions, smartphones and appliances. Those are three areas which experts say Samsung can include Bixby. Samsung has already vowed to do that by 2020.
Bixby made its debut in 2017 on the Samsung Galaxy S8 phone but is only used by 6 percent of consumers in the U.S., noted the WSJ, citing data from Ovum, the market research firm. Amazon is at 24 percent, Apple is at 22 percent and Google is at 20 percent. Microsoft’s Cortana accounts for 10 percent of the use in the U.S. But close to half of Americans don’t use one at all, providing a big untapped market. The combined market share of the players is more than 100 percent because some consumers have multiple virtual assistants, noted the report.