Samsung reportedly considering a Google deal that would deprioritize Bixby

Brian Heater

For some time now, Bixby hasn’t been much of a talking point for Samsung. It seems that the smart assistant has lost its luster even for the company that once touted it as the centerpiece of its massive hardware ecosystem. And now, according to a new report, Samsung is considering dropping the smart assistant from its mobile devices altogether.

Word comes from Reuters this week, citing a “correspondence.” Details are vague, and Samsung is unsurprisingly pushing back on the suggestion that it’s dramatically scaling back its commitment to Bixby. The hardware powerhouse denies the suggestion that it’s going to be dropping the software and/or its Galaxy Store store from its own devices.

A spokesperson tells TechCrunch, “Samsung remains committed to our own ecosystem and services. At the same time, Samsung closely works with Google and other partners to offer the best mobile experiences for our users." They add, more specifically, “Samsung will continue to offer Bixby and Galaxy Store on its devices. Both services are an important part of the Galaxy ecosystem.”

Per the report, the company is considering a rev-share deal that would put Google’s Assistant, search and Play Store in more prominent positions on its devices. It’s a deal that Google has long been pushing for. And understandably so. Samsung currently controls the largest Android market share — and for that matter, the largest market share period, with 21.2% of total global shipments, per figures from IDC.

Huawei is at a closeish number two with 17.8%, but we all know how that situation is going for Google at the moment. Between Samsung and Huawei, we’re talking well over a third of the total global smartphone market.

As for what’s in it for Samsung, well, it’s probably more about what’s not in it for Bixby. Thus far the assistant’s main selling point is its relative versatility — it also appears on things like washing machines. Of course, thus far, it remains almost exclusively the domain of Samsung’s own devices.

The public indifference toward Bixby is not for lack of trying. Samsung has long included a devoted Bixby button on its Galaxy devices — though the company began to allow users to disable that functionality back in 2017. It’s also not for lack of spending. Samsung has shelled out a lot to enhance the assistant with the acquisition, and the Bixby roadmap has offered plenty of promise.

Next week’s Unpacked event should offer some key insight into where the company’s head is with regards to Bixby these days.

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