Samsung delays Bixby’s English rollout over lack of big data

Samsung’s personal digital assistant Bixby is currently available in Korean, but its English version won’t launch by the end of this month as company executives originally promised.

As The Korea Herald reported Thursday (via The Loop), Bixby’s English version has been delayed because Samsung lacks big data needed to train Bixby to speak English fluently.

“Developing Bixby in other languages is taking more time than we expected mainly because of the lack of the accumulation of big data,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

Samsung’s mobile chief, Koh Dong-jin, promised in April that Bixby’s English and Chinese versions would be unveiled in May and in June of this year, respectively.

Even though Samsung launched a beta of Bixby for some US consumers last month, it was met with mixed responses due to what Samsung described as “unsatisfactory results in terms of responding to requests and questions”.

Difficult communication between the engineers located at Samsung Research America in California and the headquarters in Korea is also blamed for Bixby’s English delay.

According to a source cited in the report:

Many engineers in the United States are making full efforts to develop the English version of Bixby. But, due to geographical and language barriers their frequent reports to and communication with the management located in Korea makes the progress much slower than developing the Korean version here.

This can’t be good news for Samsung, which debuted its latest Galaxy S8 lineup in March with Bixby as one of its headlining features. The new handsets feature a dedicated button on the side for quickly summoning Bixby. The South Korean company even issued a software update to stop third-party apps from changing the button’s function.

Although Samsung last year snapped up Viv Labs, the developer behind Apple’s Siri, their AI technology won’t be used in Bixby before the personal assistant becomes more complete.

The Wall Street Journal reported two days ago that Samsung is building a Bixby-powered smart speaker, joining a proliferating arms race in tabletop devices against the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft.