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Samsung’s Bixby-Powered HomePod Competitor Will Launch Next Year

Samsung Electronics is expected to release its standalone smart speaker device sometime during the first half of 2018, according to a new Bloomberg report which cites sources familiar with the matter.

The hardware, which will be positioned as a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri-powered HomePod voice assistant, will reportedly support the South Korean company’s Bixby virtual assistant platform.

“The gadget will run Bixby, Samsung’s digital assistant that rivals Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. It will also synchronize with TVs, Galaxy smartphones and other Samsung devices,” sources told Bloomberg, adding that it’ll also have a “strong focus on audio quality and the management of connected home appliances such as lights and locks.”

News that Samsung would be entering the smart speaker market broke earlier this year — a little over two months after Apple announced its HomePod at WWDC 2017 in June. At the time of its revelation, however, Samsung’s President of mobile, D.J. Koh, was mum on the details about his company’s answer to HomePod, indicating only that it would arrive “soon.”

Now, Bloomberg’s sources claim Samsung is testing a functional prototype of the speaker, which allegedly “sits somewhere between” Apple’s HomePod and Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo with regards to its shape and style. Accordingly, sources confirmed that, like HomePod, Samsung’s smart speaker will not feature a touchscreen display — but will instead boast a top-oriented “visual feedback system” comprised of lights and LED indicators.

Additionally, like HomePod, Samsung’s device is said to focus on delivering premium audio quality while providing an “intelligent hub” from which to control and manage connected devices, including Galaxy phones, Televisions, and Samsung home appliances which support the company’s SmartThings platform.

While it’s yet to receive an official marketing name, Samsung’s device from all appearances is a direct “me too” response to Apple’s HomePod. Interestingly enough, though, the $349 HomePod is Apple’s response to Amazon’s original and wildly popular Echo voice assistant.

How Much Will It Cost?

Samsung will reportedly make the device available in “multiple markets,” which will likely include the U.S. It should also retail for around $200, sources say, which if true would make it considerably more affordable than Apple’s HomePod.

When Can I Get It?

Interesting and worth pointing out is that Apple’s HomePod was supposed to be available to customers by now, according to the company’s initial indication of a December, 2017 availability. However the company announced last month, without specifying a reason, that its premium Siri speaker would be delayed until “early 2018” — which not only puts its release within close range of Samsung’s device, but in a broader sense, paves the way for fierce competition in the smart speaker market next year.

Will you be picking up a HomePod or Samsung speaker when they come out next year? Let us know in the comments!