Samsung’s Galaxy Home Mini may finally see the light of day, with Samsung CEO and head of its consumer electronics division Hyun-Suk Kim announcing at CES 2020 that the company would be releasing its smaller Bixby-powered smart speaker early this year, via Bloomberg.
It’s been over a year and a half since Samsung first showed off its Bixby-powered Galaxy Home smart speaker, which was announced back in August 2018. The full-sized smart speaker has since missed numerous delays, most recently at the end of Q3 2019. In that time, though, the company also quietly announced the Galaxy Home Mini through a public beta test in South Korea, and it’s that device that’s reportedly nearing a release date.
Samsung had told The Verge back in August 2019 that it was “continuing to refine and enhance the Galaxy Home prior to launch” — a process that seems to have paid off, given that Samsung is apparently close to releasing at least one of its Galaxy Home products.
Like its oft-delayed larger sibling, the Galaxy Home Mini uses Samsung’s Bixby assistant to control IoT devices through Samsung’s SmartThings platform as well as functioning as a home speaker using sound technology from Samsung’s AKG audio brand. According to Bloomberg, Samsung’s goal with the Galaxy Home Mini is less to mimic the conversational assistant aspects that have become such a key part of products like Siri and Alexa, and to focus on creating an assistant that executes voice commands well.
Samsung still hasn’t announced a release date for the larger, cauldron-shaped Galaxy Home. According to Bloomberg’s report, the company has yet to decide whether it will be selling it at all. Right now, all focus is said to be on the cheaper and smaller Galaxy Home Mini.
But even if Samsung does hit its planned “early 2020” release date for the Galaxy Home Mini (which, given the litany of delays the Galaxy Home lineup has faced so far, isn’t assured), there’s still the fact that the smart home industry is in a very different place in 2020 than it was in 2018. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant have massively increased their presence in the space, each with new hardware generations of smart speakers and displays that have come and gone since Samsung’s speaker was first announced.
That leaves the biggest question surrounding the Galaxy Home and the Galaxy Home Mini: even if Samsung does release these Bixby speakers, is there room left in the market for another digital assistant?