Samsung has made considerable improvements to its Bixby digital assistant over the past few years. However, most of its customers still avoid using Bixby. The company did try to push it hard initially. It equipped devices with a dedicated Bixby key that couldn’t even be remapped for the longest time.
Its more recent devices have dropped the hardware key but Bixby remains a permanent fixture. It exists alongside Google Assistant that’s baked into the Android OS. If ongoing talks between Google and Samsung work out, we might see Assistant being favoured over Bixby.
Samsung could potentially earn billions of dollars
Bloomberg reports that Samsung and Google are negotiating a major deal that would provide Google’s services with a more prominent role on Samsung’s smartphones. The talks revolve around providing Google with more control over the web search experience on Samsung smartphones globally. Priority is also being sought for the Assistant and the Play Store over Samsung’s Bixby and Galaxy Store, respectively.
Samsung has always maintained a parallel ecosystem of apps and services even when they overlap with Google’s offerings that are baked into Android. This ecosystem covers apps like web browsers and email clients, the Galaxy Store for apps and the Bixby assistant. It would require a lot of convincing and possibly monetary incentives for Samsung to start giving more prominent real estate to Google’s products.
Google obviously sees a lot of value in having such an agreement with Samsung. It’s the world’s largest mobile vendor, shipping close to 300 million devices across the globe every year. Google certainly stands to benefit a lot from this massive scale but Samsung won’t allow access to that for free.
While the report doesn’t mention the terms of a potential deal, it does highlight the fact that Google pays Apple billions of dollars every year so that it can remain the default search engine on the iPhone’s Safari browser.
Samsung may not have considered such a deal earlier but with mobile sales expected to decline as a consequence of the COVID19 pandemic, scaling back its services to prioritize what Google wants in exchange for a hefty chunk of money would certainly help boost its balance sheet.
What would a potential deal mean for the future of Bixby? Samsung would probably keep it around for the time being even if it decides to take Google up on its offer. A spokesperson for the company told the scribe that “Samsung remains committed to our own ecosystem and services,” and that “At the same time, Samsung closely works with Google and other partners to offer the best mobile experiences for our users.”