Another Unpacked. Another missed opportunity for Samsung's Bixby-powered smart speaker.
While this week's Unpacked press conference gave us our first look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+, it also marked one year since we last heard anything substantial about the company's first smart speaker. The Galaxy Home is a product that's still without a price-tag or even a stable release window.
Samsung CEO DJ Koh previously told CNET that the Galaxy Home was due to land in April 2019. Then, after it didn't, Samsung adjusted their plans and told The Verge that the speaker would arrive by June. It didn't. So Consumer Electronics CEO, Kim Hyun-suk clarified to the Korea Herald that the Bixby box was definitely still happening and totally going to launch in middle of the second half of the year.
But with September around the corner, we're heard little and less about the Galaxy Home. For all intents and purposes, this product may as well be vaporware. Perhaps most tellingly, there haven't been many major rumors or leaks about the Galaxy Home. It was announced alongside the Galaxy Note 9 but this week's Unpacked press conference didn't even see it get a mention.
This situation is made particularly frustrating because we actually don't know that much about the Galaxy Home to begin with.
We know that Samsung leveraged the audio know-how of the Harman-Kardon team (which they acquired in 2016) to build it. We know it looks like a small coffee table. We know it runs on Bixby and has special features for Spotify users - but that's about it.
I mean don't get me wrong. The Samsung Galaxy Home was always going to have an uphill battle on its hands. The smart speaker market is a two-horse race between Amazon and Google and not even Apple's own audio-centric HomePod could meaningfully disrupt that status quo.
What's more, compared to the 2018, Samsung's messaging around Bixby is markedly more subdued. Like the Galaxy Home (and the Galaxy Fold), it barely got a mention during this week's Unpacked. The Note 10 and Note 10+ don't even feature the much-maligned Bixby button.
Once positioned as the glue that holds their entire smart ecosystem of products together, Samsung have now gone quiet about Bixby and the Galaxy Home - and that silence speaks volumes.