South Korean electronics major Samsung on Thursday (6 October) announced that it would buy artificial intelligence company Viv, which was founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, the creators behind Apple's Siri.
The company did not disclose the deal amount but said "the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions." The acquisition shows Samsung's new focus in the virtual personal assistant as the firm wants to deliver AI-based ecosystem across all of its devices and services.
With Viv, Samsung aims to offer new service experience that brings simplified user interface, understand what users say and then offer appropriate suggestion and recommendations. The Viv team will work closely with Samsung's mobile communications business but it will operate independently with its existing team.
The AI platform by Viv allows developers to teach the system how to create new apps or to use existing ones, building an open ecosystem of intelligence.
"At Viv, we're building the simplest way for anyone to talk to devices and services everywhere. We see a future that is decidedly beyond apps—where you can get what you need quickly and easily no matter where you are, or what device you are near," said Viv co-founder and CEO Kittlaus in a statement.
The latest deal is Samsung's fourth purchase of a US tech firm in a span of less than two years. After acquiring mobile payments startup LoopPay for about $160 million, it launched Samsung Pay to rival Apple Pay and Google wallet. The company could be looking to follow a similar strategy with Viv labs, says a Wall Street Journal report.
Unlike Siri, co-founder Kittlaus took a different approach with Viv labs allowing third-party developers to contribute new functions to Viv virtual assistant. According to him Siri offers dozens of features but Viv labs would bring hundreds of thousands of features.
Experts believe Samsung's latest deal puts it on a collision course with Google. Richard Windsor, analyst at Edison Investment Research told IBTimes UK: "Viv is very good at interpreting and understanding natural speech. It understands context in terms of previously asked questions and can unravel multi-part complex questions. If this works as advertised, it is better at natural language than Google Assistant."
"Viv runs everything in the cloud meaning the dislocation of Samsung's phones on Android and everything else on Tizen could also be much less of a problem than it is today. However, this puts Samsung once again in a position to compete directly against Google who will be aiming to have its Google Assistant front and centre of every Samsung Android device," added Windsor.
Samsung already has agreed not to compete with Google in the AI ecosystem but Viv is a competitor for Google Assistant.
"Google's 4 October launch event indicates Google Assistant is now seen as one of its most important services meaning that we can see Google modifying the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) that all handset makers have to sign to deploy Google Play," said Windsor.