All the cool companies have them: digital assistants. Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, and Google has the cleverly named Google Assistant. Now, Samsung plans to bring its own iteration of a virtual assistant in the Galaxy S8 next spring, according to a new report from Reuters.
The assistant will be based on work by Viv Labs, a San Jose-based AI company that Samsung acquired this October (the move immediately fueled speculation that Samsung was moving into the AI space). The founders of Viv Labs already have a strong track record in the field as the creators of Siri, which Apple bought in 2010.
Samsung appears to be tapping into Viv’s existing strengths rather than aiming to revamp the platform. One of Viv’s hallmarks is that it is designed to be a one-stop-shop that works seamlessly with third-party services. “Developers can attach and upload services to our agent,” Samsung Executive Vice President Rhee In-jong said during a briefing, according to Reuters. “Even if Samsung doesn’t do anything on its own, the more services that get attached the smarter this agent will get, learn more new services and provide them to end-users with ease.”
If the digital assistant is a hit, it could help Samsung make up for its financial losses over the Galaxy Note 7 recall, which is projected to cost the company at least $5.4 billion. It could also rebuild consumer confidence after the Note 7 debacle and, more recently, a recall of a Samsung top-loading washing machine due to “impact injuries.”
But the company is entering a crowded market. Apple paved the way with Siri, though its early lead is shrinking after the launch of Google’s Assistant, which can tap into Google’s well-established knowledge graph and search capabilities. And there’s always Amazon Alexa, which already has a home in the smart-home devices the Echo, Dot and Tap.
But ultimately, Samsung’s virtual assistant doesn’t have to be the best: it just needs to wow consumers enough to save its image and stem continued losses from the Note 7.