Bixby remains MIA at Samsung's IFA press conference

galaxy-home-wood-100789338-orig.jpg

galaxy-home-wood-100789338-orig.jpg

Credit: Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Samsung had a lot to say at their IFA press conference about their ecosystem of smarter and better tech but seemingly-nothing to say about the smart assistant they once claimed would tie it all together.

Despite being the star of the company's 2018 IFA press conference, Samsung's Bixby smart assistant and Galaxy Home smart speaker didn't even get a mention during this year's kick-off press conference.

Initially arriving alongside the Samsung Galaxy S8,  Bixby has had a troubled history. 

It launched in 2017 to a decidedly-mixed reception. It was not as reliable as the Google Assistant, nor was the ecosystem around Bixby as expansive or useful as Amazon Alexa. Bixby has gotten better since then but it's never really escaped the perception of being the lame duck of the smart assistant world. 

The Galaxy Home smart speaker has had a similarly rocky time.

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.

Ordinarily, Samsung not mentioning one of their many services wouldn't be such a big deal. However, It follows on from last month's Unpacked hardware event - where Bixby was also conspicuously absent - and last year's IFA, where Bixby was being positioned as the glue that'd tie their entire ecosystem together. 

This year's Note 10+ also abandoned the unpopular Bixby button that's been a staple of their smartphone design for generations. Samsung aren't even talking about how Bixby is improving in the way they have previously.

Our Take? This time last year, it felt like Samsung were framing Bixby as their challenger to the dominance of Amazon and Google in the smart speaker arena. These days, it feels like they're reluctant to even invoke its name. The Galaxy Home speaker might be the product that refuses to die but Bixby looks to have left all but the smart assistant narrative. 

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Fergus Halliday
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