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Smart Speakers & Displays

Galaxy Home: As Samsung misses April window, speaker launch remains a mystery

Samsung's HomePod and Echo rival is MIA, but the company says it's still coming.

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Samsung Galaxy Home

Juan Garzon/CNET

When Samsung first started talking about making a Bixby-powered smart speaker last year, it said it would arrive in the second half of 2018. 

Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Home at its Galaxy Note 9 event in August 2018 and promised to share more details at the company's developer conference in November. It showed off the speaker again then, but didn't give specifics on its launch date.

Then at the Galaxy S10 Unpacked event in February 2019, Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh told CNET that it would launch the speaker by April. (Samsung's US PR department, though, would only say it would launch in the first half of 2019.)

Now it's mid-May and, and the world remains without a Bixby-powered cauldron. What gives?

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In a statement provided to CNET on Friday, a Samsung spokesperson said it's "planning to launch Galaxy Home in the first half of 2019," making it clear that Samsung still intends to release the device. But the company didn't share any specifics, and it hasn't yet detailed the Galaxy Home's pricing.  

Bixby is Samsung's homegrown digital voice assistant that launched with the Galaxy S8 about three years ago. It initially was geared as an interface to control the phone, but Samsung since then expanded the technology into its various appliances and televisions. A smart speaker is aimed to be the latest home for Bixby, taking advantage of the expertise of Samsung's Harman audio expertise. 

For Samsung and numerous others, artificial intelligence is the next big wave of computing. Every tech heavyweight is investing in these assistants because they're heralded as the future of how we'll interact with our gadgets. But it's already a crowded arena, with Google and Amazon largely dominating the smart speaker market. The Galaxy Home's lateness could make it even tougher to compete. 

The delay of the Home comes as Samsung struggles to get its flashy Galaxy Fold out the door. A number of devices tested by journalists ahead of the $1,980 foldable phone's release suffered from broken or damaged tablet displays, leading Samsung to postpone its planned April 26 launch. 

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This week the company emailed those who preordered the device saying that it would cancel their orders if the phone doesn't ship by May 31 unless customers tell the company that they want to keep them. 

With a little over a month to go until the first half of the year ends, time is certainly ticking to see if Samsung hits this latest target. 

CNET's Shara Tibken contributed to this report.