Samsung's entry into AI speaker market will wake up rivals such as Kakao, Google and Amazon

Amid the rise of AI and the internet of things technologies (IoT), the global AI speaker market has been growing rapidly

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 9:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 9:21am

Samsung Electronics is set to introduce an artificial intelligence (AI) speaker, squaring off against Naver, Kakao, Google, Amazon and other players in the rapidly-emerging industry.

The company said Monday it will roll out its AI assistant Bixby-powered speaker in the latter half of this year.

Samsung will reportedly introduce the speaker at an upcoming event to showcase its latest high-end Galaxy Note 9 smartphone in New York, August 9.

The speaker is tentatively known as Magbee. According to the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS), Samsung applied for trademark rights to the name “Magbee” with the Korean Intellectual Property Office, July 13. Samsung also filed for the trademark rights in Europe and the US, according to Justia, a US legal resources website.

A Samsung Electronics spokeswoman said the company “cannot confirm any of the things related to our AI speaker,” but added “our company plans to launch an AI speaker in the latter half of this year as the company's mobile business chief Koh Dong-jin previously mentioned.” Koh said Samsung was preparing to roll out an AI speaker late this year at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona in February.

Amid the rise of AI and the internet of things technologies (IoT), the global AI speaker market has been emerging rapidly. According to industry tracker Canalys, the number of AI speakers across the world is expected to reach 100 million by the end of the year. This is 2.5 times higher than a year earlier and the figure will grow to 225 million by 2020.

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Sixty four per cent of the AI speakers have been installed in the US, followed by China with 10 per cent, the UK with 8 per cent and Germany with 6 per cent. Korea is fifth with about 3 million.

It remains to be seen whether Samsung's new AI speaker can compete with its domestic and overseas competitors. The global AI speaker market has been led by US tech giants Amazon and Google. Amazon's Echo AI speakers account for 43.6 per cent of the market, according to data from Strategy Analytics. Google is next with 26.5 per cent, followed by China's Alibaba with 7.6 per cent, Apple with 6 per cent and Xiaomi with 2.4 per cent.

Local tech firms are also fiercely competing in the domestic AI speaker market. Ever since SK Telecom, the country's No. 1 mobile carrier, introduced its AI speaker NUGU, No. 2 mobile carrier KT, Samsung's home appliance rival LG and other big name companies have rolled out speakers.

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Though Samsung is late to the market, the company sells almost half a billion electronics devices every year. With its plan to put AI features in every device it makes by 2020, Samsung plans to create an industry-leading IoT ecosystem and industry watchers predict its AI speaker will play the role of the advance guard for this plan.