In Early November Patently Apple posted a report titled "Samsung Confirms AI is coming to the Galaxy S8 in Late February Courtesy of Viv." The news of Samsung delivering a custom AI solution to their Galaxy smartphone line-up and extending it to home automation hubs was quite the leap and a way to challenge Apple's Siri in a way different from all other Android smartphones. The fact that Viv's AI team was the group who invented Siri gave it instant credibility. But now, in a surprising news story today, we're learning that Google may have stomped on Samsung's plans to introduce a Viv based AI solution to their Android devices.
Today's Asian report notes that Samsung and Google have generally maintained a close relationship but that they're now turning their back on each other over the next-generation growth engine, artificial intelligence (AI). This is because Google has stomped on Samsung's plans to launch the Galaxy S8 with an AI-powered assistant.
The problem is that Samsung signed a patent-sharing agreement with Google back in 2014. Under the deal, the two companies share each others patent technologies as well as existing patents for the next ten years. The agreement also included a non-compete provision.
Richard Windsor, an analyst at U.S.-based investment intelligence firm Edison Investment Research, said in a report, 'Since the non-compete agreement means that Samsung cannot offer any Android services that compete with Google's own services, Samsung may not be able to release smartphones with its own AI service.' For now, Google is currently providing its voice-recognition AI assistant service 'Google Assistant' with Google Pixel premium phones.
Information and communications technology (ICT) experts say that it is a very serious problem if Google thwarts Samsung's plan on the AI service is true. They criticize that Google should not hinder the development of new technology and innovation considering the fact that AI is not a simple tool to target the smartphone market but rather a next-generation indispensable technology that embraces smartphones, home appliances and cars.
If Google cracks down on this, then it will effect Huawei's latest Honor Magic smartphone that we touched on yesterday as well. Huawei claims that their AI is better than Apple's Siri because it's tuned to local needs in China better than what Apple provides.
For the record, there's been no official statement from Google on this matter as of yet and I'm sure that they'd like to avoid making this a major issue publicly to hurt Android. But if most major Android OEM's choose to use their own AI solutions and not adopt Android's 'Google Assistant' then fragmentation of Android will deepen over time and put the whole ecosystem in danger.
To date, Google Assistant is only on Google's Pixel smartphone. Will Google quickly make this available to their partners to avoid a war with their partnering OEM's or did the rumor miss the boat? Considering that that the publication reporting on this today is a business site, rumors aren't generally something they openly support unless they have something supporting it.
Of course in the end, it'll all come down to what Samsung actually introduces with their Galaxy S8 at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona in February. That's where the rubber meets the road. So we won't have long to wait to see how this plays out.
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