Last night, we reported on Samsung and Spotify’s new partnership, which will make the latter the ‘go-to’ music-streaming service on a range of Samsung’s devices, as well as for its Bixby voice-assistant. We also noted that Samsung’s first Bixby-toting smart speaker had yet to make its commercial debut. But we did at least find out more about the device at the company’s press event last night.
The speaker is called the Galaxy Home, which is in similar territory to Apple’s HomePod and Google Home Max in terms of better audio quality and a higher price than basic smart-speakers. There’s still no official launch date for the device though: Samsung said last night that it will reveal more at its developer conference in November, which suggests a launch in the (crucial, for these devices) pre-Christmas period.
Is the Galaxy Home going to be an important device for Spotify? Yes and no. Samsung may be top dog in the smartphones market, but it’s going to have a big challenge making an impact in the world of smart speakers. As we noted in our recent primer on smart-speaker sales and forecasts, research firm Canalys reckons there’ll be 100m smart speakers in people’s homes by the end of 2018. In the west, the vast majority will be Echos, Google Homes and HomePods.
Even if Samsung sells relatively few Galaxy Homes, though, the opportunity for Spotify (assuming the terms of the partnership support this, which surely they do) is more about the learnings to be had: the kind of first-hand data on how people are listening through and interacting with voice-controlled speakers that Spotify will struggle to get from Amazon, Apple and Google. Data that would be super-useful for any projects developing Spotify hardware in the future.
In September 2015, Motorola launched a mobile phone called the ROKR E1 – the first phone to get an official Apple iTunes integration, albeit almost-comically undermined by the unveiling at the same press event of Apple’s first iPod nano. Anyway, the ROKR wasn’t a success, but it was a very useful experience for the process within Apple that would result in the first iPhone two years later.
The parallel between 2018’s Spotify and 2005’s Apple isn’t exact, of course, but it doesn’t feel like a huge stretch to see Samsung’s Galaxy Home as potentially the ROKR to the Spotify Speaker in a year or two’s time. Which is not to say that Samsung definitely won’t sell tens of millions of units and create a new, powerful route to the living room for its music-streaming partner. But more that this partnership can pay off for Spotify in other ways even if that doesn’t happen.