[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics has replaced the development chief of its virtual assistant Bixby, possibly in a move to revamp the service amid lukewarm reviews, industry sources said on Oct. 12.
Chung Eui-seok who has been leading a mobile platform and solution lab at Samsung Research America in Silicon Valley since 2015 will lead the Bixby team, replacing his predecessor Rhee In-jong, vice president and R&D head of software and services.
Chung, who worked for Ericsson before joining Samsung in 2011, is a software specialist behind Samsung’s security program Knox and Samsung Pay. He played a key role when Samsung acquired US AI startup Viv Labs, the original company that developed Apple’s Siri.
Samsung denied the reshuffle is due to Bixby’s mixed reception, saying Rhee will continue to oversee software upgrades of Samsung’s mobile devices overall.
Bixby debuted in March when it was featured on Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone. The latest Note 8 also has the dedicated button.
But it is still struggling to pick up languages like English and Chinese largely due to Samsung’s lack of data and specialists in foreign languages.
In September, Samsung had to offer a software upgrade that allows users to disable the Bixby button as many users complain they are annoyed by accidently launching the assistant when they adjust volume.
Samsung plans to unveil the second-generation Bixby next week at a developers’ conference in San Francisco. Viv Labs didn’t participate in the current Bixby version that had already been developed before the acquisition.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)