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The Samsung / Harman PC last month is oddly metaphorical of Samsung’s acquisition of Harman.

Yesterday, the announcement came out that Samsung was acquiring Harman, the automotive audio company, for $8B. This comes after a string of acquisitions that Samsung has made of other players, as well as strategic investments.

Samsung is slowly gearing up to be a competitor in the AI voice interaction space. The Harman acquisition now allows Samsung a channel to distribute its technologies.

Over the past few years, Samsung has made some interesting moves:

  • Launching of the ARTIK IoT platform to allow developers to connect easily different hardware devices.
  • Investing in Maluuba (the Waterloo-based NLU company)
  • Acquisition of SmartThings (our fellow Kickstarter alumnus)
  • Acquisition of Viv — the super futuristic AI assistant (that never launched)
  • Acquisition of Boxee — the entertainment casting device

Samsung also announced the acquisition of NewNet — it’s not clear if this plays a role in this immediate strategy or something else.

Just looking at all of these companies working together, one could try to think of the types of projects that could result:

  • Launching of a device similar to the Echo/Google Home
  • Release of an in-car virtual assistant
  • Release of Samsung TV-integrated assistant
  • Creation of its own version of Alexa Voice Service / Embedded Google Assistant SDK

Competing with Amazon and Google in this space will not be easy. They have access to a lot more data on email content, contacts, and purchases than Samsung. However, Samsung has many hardware users and as a result, lower level access to data. The challenge will be interpreting that data (e.g. location, accelerometer, data transfer size/time/type, etc) and combining it with its assistant to produce useful applications for the end user.

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