When Samsung launched its Bixby digital assistant with the Galaxy S8, some basic features were missing, and they were slow to arrive. On top of that, Bixby was installed alongside the well-established Google Assistant, prompting questions as to whether it was really necessary to add another digital assistant to an already crowded market. Samsung may have realized Bixby's shortcomings as a digital assistant, but with Bixby 2.0 the Korean tech giant is hardly backing down. Bixby 2.0 is the lead element of Samsung's bid to build its own ecosystem of connected devices and services. The new Bixby strategy is vastly different from what came before it, which is why we've chosen to publish this article to accompany our original Bixby cheat sheet, which focuses more on its digital assistant features.
Samsung is opening up its voice-activated assistant Bixby to developers, the company announced at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. It's one of three moves the company is taking -- along with expanding Bixby to more devices and expanding support for more languages -- to increase Bixby's footprint. Bixby will transform "from a simple mobile voice assistant to a scalable AI platform," Eui-Suk Chung, EVP and head of software and AI, said during the conference keynote address. Samsung's three-part strategy for expanding Bixby's reach "will lay the groundwork for Bixby to be our singular commitment to AI," Chung said. Samsung will be rolling out a new set of developer tools and launching the Bixby Marketplace to support developers.
The Bixby-powered Galaxy Home speaker will launch in April, Samsung said. Samsung's AI platform Bixby is still a minor player in the virtual assistant market, with just a fraction of the audience that Google, Amazon and Apple enjoy. Still, Samsung continues to invest in Bixby's capabilities and its reach. At the Galaxy S10 Unpacked event on Wednesday, Samsung announced that Bixby is now officially available in four new European languages. And speaking with ZDNet's sister site CNET, Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh on Wednesday said the Galazy Home -- a Bixby-powered smart speaker -- will finally launch in April.
Amazon has its Alexa everywhere strategy. Google Assistant has Android for distribution. Apple has Siri throughout its products. And now Samsung is trying to get its Bixby platform a little more love via distribution and more touch points for developers. Samsung's master plan is to embed its Bixby digital assistant in more of its core products and then take that reach and woo developers.