Samsung has announced its entry into the smart speaker market with the Galaxy Home. It’s a high-end speaker meant to go head-to-head with Apple’s HomePod, while standing apart from competitors like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home with a promise of higher quality audio. Samsung said the speaker is meant to combine “amazing sound and elegant design.”
The Galaxy Home looks like a strange vase or statue that might go on a table in the corner of your home. It’s wrapped in fabric but elevated by three stout metal legs. It has a flat top with control buttons on it for skipping tracks and changing the volume.
The speaker is supposed to deliver surround-sound style audio using six built-in speakers and a subwoofer. It also includes eight far-field microphones for detecting voice input. You’ll be able to say “Hi Bixby” to activate Samsung’s assistant and ask it to start playing music or a number of other tasks — Samsung’s indicated it’d be able to do many of the same things Bixby can do a phone.
Beyond that, we don’t have a lot of details. Samsung isn’t ready to fully announce the speaker yet and said that it’d share more at a developer conference in early November.
One of the big questions hanging over the speaker is how well its smart functions will hold up. It includes Samsung’s Bixby assistant, which few have seemed to particularly enjoy using so far. If Samsung wants this to be seen as an equivalent to an Echo, it’ll need an assistant that’s about as smart as Alexa. And right now, it isn’t clear the company has that.
The speaker will also enter into a crowded market. Amazon has already taken a commanding early lead with its Echo devices (along with the spread of Alexa inside of third-party devices), while Google has managed to sell millions of Home devices as well, likely thanks to their low price and frequent sales. And both companies may have more to share before the holiday season, when the Galaxy Home debuts.
Then of course there’s Apple, which is the company Samsung really seems to be interested in taking on — likely because higher-end speakers have larger margins and aren’t a market that’s been dominated just yet. Samsung and Apple may find themselves contending with the same problem: a distinct lack of smarts in their speaker, when compared to competitors. If that’s what people are buying smart speakers for (it is), then that’s going to make Samsung’s new product a harder sell.