Samsung could be planning to delay the Galaxy S8 as it works on revamping its damaged brand.
Samsung is currently working on a new smartphone, believed to be known as the Galaxy S8, that would come with a button dedicated to activating its artificial-intelligence feature. This is according to The Wall Street Journal, citing sources. However, since the feature is new and might require some behind-the-scenes tweaking, Samsung is planning to announce the new device in April, the Journal’s sources say.
According to reports, Samsung previously had plans to announce the Galaxy S8 in February at or around the time of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The last few months have proven challenging for Samsung. Since August, Samsung has been trying to stop the bleeding from its Galaxy Note 7, which was found to have overheating problems that could, in some circumstances, cause the device to explode. Samsung has responded by discontinuing the handset, but the troubles have done significant damage to its brand and bottom line.
Meanwhile, last week Samsung announced that it was recalling nearly three million top-loading washing machines due to their own manufacturing defect, leading some to question whether Samsung could be trusted.
For its part, Samsung has publicly apologized for the troubles. Privately, the company is said to be working on major new innovations that could help it regain its past glory and quell some of the concern among consumers. Innovation in its smartphones could be one way it tries to achieve that goal.
In a bid to deliver more innovation, Samsung last month announced the acquisition of artificial-intelligence startup Viv Labs. The company quickly followed that announcement, saying that it plans to bundle Viv’s artificial-intelligence technology in upcoming products.
According to the Journal’s sources, Viv’s creation will act as the centerpiece for the Galaxy S8’s new button and will deliver vastly improved artificial intelligence compared to S Voice, a virtual assistant Samsung release in 2012.
Whether Samsung can deliver the full value of Viv next year, however, is debatable, says Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart. He told Tom’s Guide in an interview on Monday that next year might be too soon for Samsung to bring all of Viv’s features to its devices.
“It is unlikely that Samsung will be able to fully leverage Viv in products launched so soon after acquiring the technology, but you have to start somewhere,” Greengart says. He added that Samsung, which uses Google’s Android operating system in its smartphones, might have a difficult time getting consumers to ignore Google services in favor of its own.
“Google has an enormous head start and continually refines its AI with more data as people use it,” he says. “Outside of China, many consumers buy Samsung's Android phones in order to use Google's services, not Samsung's, so there is a pretty high bar to clear.”
For its part, Samsung hasn’t confirmed a release date on the Galaxy S8 and didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. However, pushing back the smartphone’s announcement two months is a major departure for Samsung, which has been delivering updates around Mobile World Congress each year.
It appears, at least in 2017, Samsung is going to take more care and not worry so much about a timeline.
“A delay would impact Samsung's earnings, but is necessary to ensure the public that all care has been taken to ensure that the new phones do not suffer from the Note 7's defects,” Greengart says.