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Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Home smart speaker at its lavish Unpacked 2018 event. This is company's first smart speaker which was unveiled alongside the much anticipated Galaxy Note 9. The Galaxy Home is based on company's smart voice assistant Bixby that was released with the Galaxy S8, and has since made it to TVs and smart appliances.
The smart assistant is in direct competition with the already dominating Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's Siri. The company didn't provide much information about the speaker at the event, leaving the consumers wondering about the pricing and availability of the device. Here's what the Galaxy Home should do right to give other smart speakers a run for their money.
If Samsung manages to get the pricing right, it will have an upper hand in the sales numbers. We all know how Sonos One caught everyone's attention with its aggressive $200 price tag. It won't be surprising if the Galaxy Home costs more than that. But pricing it close to $350 like the Apple HomePod could be a deal-breaker for many.
While Siri is the most popular voice assistant on phone due to the huge iPhone user base, it failed to translate the success in the smart speaker segment. According to a recent report, the HomePod had a mere 6 percent of the US market, dwarfed by Amazon's 70 percent and Google's 24, respectively.
Google and Amazon sure have the lead measured in years, and offer devices for as low as $35 to $50. If Samsung wants to lock horns with these giants, it needs to be aggressive with the pricing of the Galaxy Home.
Smarter voice assistant
Given Samsung's strong ties with Google, it wouldn't be surprising if we see the Google Assistant alongside Bixby on the Galaxy Home. This also means the integration of built-in Chromecast media streaming and its multiroom audio capabilities. This will fit well with Samsung's SmartThings smart home ecosystem, which already supports the Google Assistant.
Sonos has already confirmed that it will add Google Assistant functionality this year -- it already has support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Alexa. So Samsung should probably follow the same strategy. We might see "choose your own assistant" speakers in the future, at least the premium ones.
Premium sound quality
Apple arguably has the best-sounding smart speaker. It sure does has some issues due to the small size, but still manages to keep its audio game high. To be on top of the chain, Galaxy Home should sound at least as good as the Sonos One or close to the HomePod.
With Harman on Samsung's side, combined with the company's audio lab, it shouldn't be a huge problem for Samsung to bring in premium audio quality with the Galaxy Home.
There is an ample amount of smart speakers available in the market. While most of them offer decent audio quality, what sets them apart is the quality of microphones used to "listen" for your spoken commands.
Apple HomePod is again the best listener amongst the lot. It uses very sensitive microphones that are capable of picking up the wake word "Siri" even when the user is in another room or even when the speaker is playing music. If Samsung wants a piece of the market, it will have to compete with Apple on the microphone front as well.
A single speaker would be fine for a lot of people, but some want their speakers to fill in big rooms. The top-end speakers offer stereo pairing to enhance the audio quality. Samsung should also take the same approach and offer multiple inputs so users can plug it into their TVs.
Samsung's odd-looking Galaxy Home shows potential, and if the company manages to tick all the boxes with its performance and audio quality, like the HW-K950 sound bar, we might have a new smart speaker that could lead from the front. Also, the company needs to price it competitively along with a smarter assistant. Let's hope the company brings all this fruition when its Galaxy Home hits the shelves.