Marketing 6 min read

Why the Death of Bixby is on the Horizon

Even with billions of dollars of investment, Bixby's future is on a knife edge. | Image via Samsung

Even with billions of dollars of investment, Bixby's future is on a knife edge. | Image via Samsung

Despite the large rivalry between Alexa and Google for virtual assistants, Samsung’s Bixby has always hung in the background awaiting its turn at AI glory. Of course, as many readers may already know, Bixby doesn’t have the biggest fan following.

Reddit posts from as recently as 3 months ago detail the many failings or bizarre/non-intuitive aspects of the virtual assistant.

I asked Bixby to open my date and time settings and turn off military time. It said ‘PRESS OK TO RESTORE FACTORY SETTINGS…‘” said user SaveSurely. Other users commented on how much Samsung tried to force Bixby on its users.

As a solution, some users recommended third-party apps like bxActions in order to remap the “Bixby button”. If you don’t, you have to sign up for a Samsung account and go through a lengthy tutorial and disabling process.

Despite this lack of interest or outright hatred of Bixby, Samsung wants to make it better.

A new marketing campaign and showings at CES heralds a new age of success for Samsung’s virtual assistance. But even integration into smart home devices like laundry machines and refrigerators won’t save this doomed AI.

Why is Samsung’s Bixby doomed to be nothing more than a punchline?

A new Image for Bixby Plagued by the Same Issues

The new ad, released about a month ago, shows various young professionals using the personal assistant. Bixby can help you manage your schedule, hail an Uber, and adapt to all of your daily routines and needs….supposedly.

While you won’t see any listicles about ultimate commands for Bixby yet, maybe change is on the horizon.

After all, if you search for videos about the AI on YouTube, you find many new videos talking about Bixby’s new features. However, many are between 6 months – 1 year old and many of them are also sponsored videos by Samsung. That makes it difficult to trust those reviews.

And, despite Samsung going all in on their assistant at CES 2019, users remain skeptical.

Cameron Summerson puts it best in his March 2018 How-To Geek article.

The thing with Bixby is that it’s not really horrible—it’s just unnecessary. Anything Bixby can do, [Google’s] Assistant can do better. Bixby Vision was arguably its most useful feature, but with the rise of Google Lens, even that isn’t so useful anymore.”

With the latest updates, some users noticed that the latest iteration of Samsung’s assistant is far more “voice-driven”.  Even compared to Google’s assistant, users enjoy the voice commands more. However, other users have noted that Google still works faster for many other tasks.

Integrating Google apps like Gmail and YouTube into Samsung’s assistant also spurred curiosity.

Samsung has said that it intends to treat its assistant as a connector for various third-party apps. But a timeline for this has yet to be announced. In fact, Samsung also announced that Google Assistant will feature on some of the devices in their 2019 TV lineup.

If Samsung wants to compete with other AI assistants, why are they choosing to integrate, as well?

New Smart Home Devices With Assistant Integration

Samsung owns a respectable 34% of the TV market share. And now, they want to dominate other sectors of home electronics and appliances.

Many already know about Samsung’s lines of refrigerators, washers, dryers, and more. But this year at CES 2019, the company announced “smart” appliances.

The first being a “smart” front-load washer and dryer that come equipped with — you guessed it — Bixby.

The AI assistant can stop and start cycles, schedule preferred wash times, and provide notifications when your wash is ready for the next step. You can also monitor energy usage in order to catalog your environmental footprint.

Of course, LG’s new lineup of smart washers and dryers function with Google Assistant and Alexa, too.

Despite that competition, Samsung remains hopeful of its assistant integration with its various appliances. This extends to their new refrigerators that feature “Family Hubs”, as well.

The large screen allows you to doodle, place stickers, photos, or “post-it notes”, or display information like today’s weather. And, of course, Samsung’s AI assistant comes built in with voice controls.

Samsung also revealed not one, but four new robots to help with health monitoring and other tasks. The robots are pretty cute, but seem to just operate in service to collecting user data for Bixby.

After all, no matter what device it is, the new Samsung products all have Bixby integration. This means that Samsung will harvest whatever data you consent to give to its AI assistant.

This also seems curious, given the fact that Honda announced a quartet of robot concepts last year.

Is Samsung attempting to diversify or is it just another way to force Bixby onto users?

Mandatory Usage, Mixed Signals, and Poor Market Understanding

Despite Samsung’s new image for their AI assistant, their strategy to entice users remains the same: force the features on them, get a bunch of people to say “It’s great!”, and go from there.

Their commitment to encouraging more accessibility features with improved voice commands is admirable. But if the only thing that Bixby does better than Google Assistant or Alexa is voice commands, the vast majority of people likely won’t opt to use it.

Beyond the confusing nature of Samsung integrating with competitors, the latest push for Bixby’s new image displays a classic error Samsung commits year after year.

They simply don’t understand (or won’t acknowledge) what their user base tells them they want.

Samsung has many, many products which provide excellent profits and bolster their business portfolio. So, why do they keep trying to force a half-hearted AI assistant on their hardware users?

Bixby will fade into the past due to Samsung’s inability to acknowledge user needs and the earnest, if misplaced, zealotry with which they conscript users in the involuntary QA crowdsourcing for their AI assistant.

Given the amount of user data they are bound to harvest from their new appliances, Samsung will continue to tweak and make changes to their assistant.

But Google and Amazon are already leagues ahead; with Google Lens integration and other facets of AR coming into the AI assistant world, Samsung will likely have to give up on their AI assistant soon.

Did any Samsung announcements from CES 2019 make you want to give Bixby one more try?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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