6-October, San Jose – With the news that Google Assistant will be exclusive to its Pixel phones, Samsung’s Viv acquisition makes Android less relevant as the big brands build out their own ecosystems. The South Korean technology giant Samsung has acquired the Silicon Valley startup Viv for an undisclosed amount. Venture capitalists previously invested $30m into the startup in 3 rounds, since their founding in 2012.
If you’re old enough to remember back to the big desktop PC days, Windows was just an operating system and on top of it, the likes of Dell, Gateway, HP and others would cram in their own apps, prefered ISPs, bloatware and much in the way of extras. Some systems you wouldn’t even know Windows was there.
The same is now happening with Android. That’s in part due to smartphone sales having peaked, and the companies are largely dependent on replacement sales, so are building out smart home and fitness ecosystems to keep people trapped within one device family. Sure there’s a nod to wider compatibility through apps, but all the good stuff happens when you stay within that Sony (PlayStation), Samsung (SmartThings) or Amazon (Prime) walled garden. Even Google’s Assistant is exclusive to its new Pixel phones.
Samsung Hearts Viv
The latest step in this direction is Samsung picking up Viv. The AI company is a spin-off from the creators of Apple’s Siri. Viv offers natural language AI and is likely to be at the cutting edge of these technologies.
If Samsung bolts Viv into the TouchWiz interface and all of a sudden, it becomes almost unrecognizable as an Android device, and once users have set up their smart home through a bunch of Samsung SmartThings products all linked to Viv, or whatever the company calls their new assistant, then people will be less inclined to leave when it comes to their next upgrade.
Of course, Apple is already the ultimate exponent of this approach. That’s why it dominates the smartphone market when it comes to profit, loyalty and so on. Yet, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri haven’t helped it take control of smart homes and the assistant segment, attracting few new converts to the Apple fold.
Instead, the fans are all increasingly sticking to their own territory, with fewer straying outside into greener pastures unless there is a serious pressing issue, such as money saving, a poor product experience or similar to drive someone away.
YouTube: Samsung to Acquire Viv, the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Platform
I’ve been writing about technology. PCs and mobile for over 10 years, covering news, tutorials, reviews, comparisons and other pieces across magazines and websites.