Barrier to Innovation
Samsung, the world’s largest Android phone manufacturer, and Google, the Android mobile operating system provider, had maintained a close relationship, but they are now turning their back on each other over the next-generation growth engine, artificial intelligence (AI). This is because Google has stomped on Samsung's plans to launch the Galaxy S8 with an AI-powered assistant.
According to industry sources and major foreign news reports on December 20, Google made an issue of the fact that Samsung Electronics is planning to add its own AI assistant service to the Galaxy S8 after it acquired AI platform developer Viv Labs in October.
The problem is that Samsung signed a patent-sharing agreement with Google back in 2014. Under the deal, the two companies share each other's patent technologies as well as existing patents for the next ten years. The agreement also included a non-compete provision.
Richard Windsor, an analyst at U.S.-based investment intelligence firm Edison Investment Research, said in a report, “Since the non-compete agreement means that Samsung cannot offer any Android services that compete with Google's own services, Samsung may not be able to release smartphones with its own AI service.” For now, Google is currently providing its voice-recognition AI assistant service “Google Assistant” with Google Pixel premium phones.
Information and communications technology (ICT) experts say that it is a very serious problem if that Google thwarts Samsung's plan on the AI service is true. They criticize that Google should not hinder the development of new technology and innovation considering the fact that AI is not a simple tool to target the smartphone market but rather a next-generation indispensable technology that embraces smartphones, home appliances and cars.
Google recently launched the Google Pixel flagship smartphones equipped with Google Assistant in the global market. Apple also introduced its AI assistant service “Siri” in the iPhone 4S in 2011 for the first time in the world and is expected to launch more advanced service next year in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first release of the iPhone.
Amazon is also releasing various forms of devices and services that feature its AI service “Alexa.” In addition, Honor, a subsidiary brand of Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer, recently launched its AI-based smartphone Honor Magic.