[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics’ artificial intelligence assistant Bixby is expected to face further delays for its crucial Chinese debut following revisions to local cybersecurity laws, according to news reports on July 17.
Samsung debuted Bixby on its latest flagship smartphone Galaxy S8 in April. Despite its Korean launch in May, the release of its English and Chinese versions are being delayed largely due to Samsung’s lack of resources such as data and experts specialized in foreign languages.
The Chinese version was planned to be launched in June but had to be delayed with no immediate breakthrough emerging.
Adding to the pressure is the revised cybersecurity laws that limit data transfer out of country. Under the law, all the data generated within the country should be stored in domestic servers.
“We are still tacking the data transfer issue under the revised laws in China,” a Samsung software developer told Chosun Biz on condition of anonymity. “With diplomatic tensions escalating between Korea and China, no progress has been made for now.”
Its archrival Apple on July 12 announced plans to build its own a US$1 billion data center in China. The iPhone maker has leased data servers from China Telecom since 2014.
Industry watchers say the new data center will drastically upgrade the functions of Apple’s Siri service for Chinese users.
Chosun Biz said Samsung is also likely to set up a data center in China, a crucial market where the world’s largest smartphone maker has suffered sluggish sales in recent years.
The report said building its own data center could be discussed when the development of Chinese Bixby is completed soon.
In the meantime, Samsung’s upcoming Note 8 that is expected to be unveiled at a separate launch event on Aug. 23 in New York is also rumored to come with the Korean version Bixby only.
Samsung is offering the English version to select Galaxy S8 users for the beta test that is still underway.
Samsung acquired US startup Viv Labs, the original company behind Apple’s Siri, in October last year. But it didn’t participate in the current Bixby version that had already been developed before the acquisition.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)