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Samsung Announces Bixby Smart Speaker, Spotify Partnership

Samsung used its Unpacked event in New York Thursday to unveil its own smart speaker, dubbed Galaxy Home. The company also announced a new partnership with Spotify, promising to deeply integrate the music service into a range of Samsung devices including phones, TVs and the upcoming Galaxy Home speaker.

Samsung’s Galaxy Home speaker will be powered by Bixby, the company’s smart assistant. It will use eight microphones, which are supposed to be capable of optimizing far-field voice recognition even in large homes.

The speaker will be powered by audio technology from AKG, a subsidiary of the speaker maker Harman, which Samsung acquired last year. It features six tweeters for omnidirectional sound, as well as one woofer. The speaker also integrates a smart home hub capable of controlling devices compatible with Samsung’s Smartthings technology.

Form-wise, the speaker will differentiate itself from competing products like Apple’s Homepod with a round body that stands on three feet — think of it as a mini tripod for your speaker, if you will. The company didn’t announce a price point for the speaker yet, and instead promised updates for price and availability soon.

One of the music services available on the speaker will be Spotify, which is being deeply integrated into both the Bixby speaker as well as other Samsung devices. The company even invited Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on stage to announce this new partnership. “The partnership that we are announcing with Samsung today is a true cross-platform listening experience,” Ek said.

Part of the arrangement will allow what Samsung calls seamless continuity: Consumers will be able to start listening to an album or playlist on their phone, then continue to play the music to their TV when they get home, and finally press play on their smart speaker to keep playing the same music there.

Samsung’s partnership with Spotify is notable for a number of reasons. For Samsung, it’s the latest episode of a multi-year search for a distinct music strategy, which included the launch of its own Milk Music service — a service that was killed two years after its launch. Samsung also briefly flirted with acquiring Tidal, and more recently partnered with Google to use Google Play Music as its default music service.

For Spotify, the partnership is a clear attempt to fight off Apple Music, which is benefitting from its close iPhone integration.  Unsurprisingly, Ek boasted Thursday that the deal would give his company a vastly larger footprint. “We’re talking about hundreds of millions of devices,” he said.

 

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