Samsung buys AI startup created by Siri co-cofounders

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Samsung on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Viv, a next-generation artificial intelligence firm created by Siri co-founders and former Apple employees Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham.





Viv Labs. | Source: The Washington Post




Under the terms of today's agreement, Viv will function as a separate entity from Samsung, but is contractually obliged to provide services to the Korean tech giant, according TechCrunch. Recode contradicts the report, saying all Viv employees, around 30 in total, will be assimilated into Samsung's apparatus.



In any case, Samsung has purchased Viv, and is therefore de facto owner of any technological breakthroughs the team might produce. Financial details of the acquisition remain unknown. This will be the second big acquisition for co-creators Kittlaus, Cheyer and Brigham, who previously sold their Siri virtual assistant technology to Apple in 2010.



Viv debuted in 2014 as a next step solution to closed automated assistants popularized by Apple and Google. Kittlaus demonstrated Viv's potential during the product's first public presentation in May.



Built in part on Siri's foundation, Viv is much more advanced than Apple's assistant. For example, Viv can look up movie times, compare ticket prices, place an order, suggest alternative showtimes, recommend pre-show dinner reservations, cancel a previous order and more, all from a single point of contact. Perhaps most importantly, the system can mesh multiple services together without the need for standalone apps.



Samsung's plans for Viv are unclear, though the company told Recode its vision for AI is more focused compared to existing solutions.



"Our focus is really more device-centric," said Injong Rhee, CTO of Samsung's mobile division. "How do we revolutionize how users interact with our devices and our appliances?"



Rhee added that Viv or technology derived from Viv will ship with next year's Galaxy smartphones. From there, the company plans to expand integration into televisions and internet-connected devices.



Samsung has a dismal success rate when it comes to integrating purchased technology into first-party products, but Kittlaus is convinced selling to the Korean tech giant was the right decision, Recode reports.



"We, of course, did our own independent inquiries about this issue," Kittlaus said. "Samsung has drastically changed in terms of how they handle acquisitions and integrations over the last three years and really gotten good."
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Comments

  • Reply 2 of 36
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,795member
    For all the flak that Samsung gets, this is a great move if they play their cards right. AI Assistant technology is a core technology.
    frankie
  • Reply 3 of 36
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    I was thinking about Viv during the lame Google keynote yesterday. Viv is supposedly really good. I really wanted Apple to acquire them.  Maybe Apple didn't want to acquire the same company twice.

    I'm not going to lie Siri leaves a lot to be desired. Will.I.am.has been hanging around Apple too much lately, I'm hoping Apple acquires his company because his virtual assistant technology is amazing. He also says Apple is the best despite him owning his own tech company
    rogifan_new
  • Reply 4 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,548member
    In Samsung's defense, at least this time they bought tech to compete with Apple.
    andrewj5790kudupscooter63dasanman69
  • Reply 5 of 36
    kudukudu Posts: 31member
    If it's a missed opportunity for Apple, so be it. Competition is good all around. Imagine how Apple will innovate in response to this incentive. Ha! 
  • Reply 6 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,548member
    kudu said:
    If it's a missed opportunity for Apple, so be it. Competition is good all around. Imagine how Apple will innovate in response to this incentive. Ha! 
    I'm not so sure Apple missed anything. Apple has moved so far past the original Siri that I'm not sure that a new AI created by the Siri co-founders would have been workable into their current setup.
    edited October 2016 lollivercoolfactorequality72521jbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 36
    "Viv, turn off battery explode program" Viv: "I can't do that Dave."
    Solilolliverquadra 610pscooter63coolfactorRayz2016brakkennumenoreanwatto_cobraholyone
  • Reply 8 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    "Viv, can you explain why our stock is going up when all our company's products are exploding?"
    calilolliverquadra 610dasanman69numenoreanwatto_cobraSpamSandwichjbdragoncornchipjony0
  • Reply 9 of 36
    anomeanome Posts: 1,243member
    cali said:
    I was thinking about Viv during the lame Google keynote yesterday. Viv is supposedly really good. I really wanted Apple to acquire them.  Maybe Apple didn't want to acquire the same company twice.

    I'm not going to lie Siri leaves a lot to be desired. Will.I.am.has been hanging around Apple too much lately, I'm hoping Apple acquires his company because his virtual assistant technology is amazing. He also says Apple is the best despite him owning his own tech company


    It's more likely they didn't want to be bought by Apple twice. If they feel Siri hasn't been properly developed by Apple, then they might prefer to sell to someone else.

    Not that I'm convinced Samsung will do any better.

    calirogifan_newnumenoreancornchip
  • Reply 10 of 36
    Of course they did.

    Samsung has been trying for years to be like Apple and have their own complete ecosystem. Making Samsung specific versions of Google/Android features (S-Music, S-Translate, S-Voice and many others) and even building their own App store. This is just Samsung trying to come up with their own version of Siri/Google Assistant to yet again offer up a Samsung specific version of an existing Android feature. Perhaps this will be S-Assist?

    Based on Samsungs failure to get anywhere I'm actually surprised Viv would sell to them. If Viv was so good, then wouldn't they want to be on the widest range of devices? Why limit yourself to Samsung?

    Google also wants to be just like Apple. So they introduced the Pixel line so they can have control over a complete ecosystem from hardware to software.


    Neither of them are going to succeed.
    calilolliverwatto_cobraSpamSandwichjbdragonbadmonkjony0
  • Reply 11 of 36
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Of course they did.

    Samsung has been trying for years to be like Apple and have their own complete ecosystem. Making Samsung specific versions of Google/Android features (S-Music, S-Translate, S-Voice and many others) and even building their own App store. This is just Samsung trying to come up with their own version of Siri/Google Assistant to yet again offer up a Samsung specific version of an existing Android feature. Perhaps this will be S-Assist?

    Based on Samsungs failure to get anywhere I'm actually surprised Viv would sell to them. If Viv was so good, then wouldn't they want to be on the widest range of devices? Why limit yourself to Samsung?

    Google also wants to be just like Apple. So they introduced the Pixel line so they can have control over a complete ecosystem from hardware to software.


    Neither of them are going to succeed.
     I agree they both will fail. Something just came to mind though, I think the viv team just want to make quick money and will leave sammy soon. Remember they did the same with Apple maybe they will just continue making virtual assistance and selling them to different companies. 
    lolliverwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 12 of 36
    It's a great asset, but I don't think Samsung have the platform to make it work for them beyond what Google already offers through Android. Instead this would likely be seen as a threat of independence from Google since VIV's strength comes from its ability to leverage services. Since Samsung don't have many, it would be about Samsung establishing new partners and furthering their Tizen aspirations.
    pscooter63brakkenlolliver
  • Reply 13 of 36
    Since ViV was announced I suspected these guys made it just for future sell. This news has proved it.

    Next few years all of them will be out of Samsung and started a new AI system that will be much better than ViV (in their own words) and the cycle will begin again.
    edited October 2016 lolliverjdwwatto_cobranolamacguydysamoriabadmonkcornchip
  • Reply 14 of 36
    Samsung's purchase of Viv is a game changer. Not so much for Apple. It's is huge game changer for Alphabet/Google. 

    Samsung has no plans on using Google Assistant and Google has made its own intentions clear in using Google assistant to drive sales of its own Pixel phones. 

    Samsung, is a far more capable hardware manufacturer than Google. In fact, outside of China, Samsung is the dominant Android OEM. 

    Even with the exploding battery issue, Samsung will right the ship. It will hurt them, but they will be back. The Exxon Valdez spill didn't end the company and neither did the BP spill. Boeing's 787s had batteries that caught fire also. 

    With Samsung using Viv instead of the Google assistant, Google loses access to the data generated. Google could potentially lose access to substantial quantities of data generated by Samsung's Galaxy line of devices. Samsung very likely is developing its own search engine and AI program. Or they may use Bing like Amazon's Alexa. It is very unlikely that they will use Google search given Google's competitive intent. Much like Amazon's decision to use Bing. 

    Google is going to lose in a major fashion. They made some big mistakes in going after Samsung. They made big mistakes with respect to Apple, Facebook and Amazon also.

    For AI to be fully realized, access to high quality data and lots of it is necessary. The loss of Samsung is going to put a major chokehold on the company. Never mind the Verizon takeover of Yahoo. Verizon now owns a property in which search ads generate revenue. Verizon will very likely install Yahoo as the default search engine on every phone that they can. Another major source of data inaccessibility and loss of search generated revenue. 

    Google is in trouble and it's very real and tangible. They may be fine for the next two fiscal quarters, but as Verizon ramps up the search engine changes, it's going to impact Google's bottom line. And when Samsung releases the S8 with Viv, it's going to hurt them further. 

    Samsung and Verizon are releasing the ICBM headed right for Mountain View. Apple didn't need to go thermonuclear. Google's partners are taking care of that task. 

    Why Google didn't buy Viv and Yahoo to keep them out of the hands of their competitors eludes me. Didn't Google with all of their smart people know what Verizon was planning? A network company acquires a company based on search? And didn't Google know that Samsung would make a competitive play against Google Assistant? Google spent billions on Nest and Motorola mobility. They could have spent the capital on Yahoo and Viv. 

    This all is good news for Apple. Google will cease to be a major OS competitor in a few years. Samsung will remain a competitor but one that is willing to coexist much like all of the automakers coexist. Google wants to own everything. And that attitude is going to bring them to ruin. 

    Instead of partnering strategically for the long term, they steal their partner's ideas and launch competing products. Android against iOS. Pixel against the Galaxy. Google+ against Facebook. Google Home against Amazon's Echo. Google cloud against AWS. Google daydream against Oculus. Google fiber against AT&T's Giga Power. Amazon and Apple compete in a limited fashion. Apple virtually doesn't compete with Facebook. Apple and Samsung do compete in a major fashion. But Google takes the cake. They are trying to compete in a major fashion simultaneously with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and now Samsung. Verizon had also moved to compete with Google also. 

    This is beginning to take on the appearance of a rout. And Google isn't going to fare well. 
    fotoformatwatto_cobrapatchythepirate
  • Reply 15 of 36
    dacloodacloo Posts: 890member
    It can't be hard to create something that's better than Siri, which is absolutely and utterly useless.
    rogifan_newsingularitySpamSandwichfrankie
  • Reply 16 of 36
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,399member
    "Viv, built on Mac"



    lollivercornchip
  • Reply 17 of 36
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 677member
    Depends how well ss deals with it's full Galaxy recall. 
  • Reply 18 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,424member
    "Samsung has drastically changed in terms of how they handle acquisitions and integrations over the last three years and really gotten good."

    Absolute, complete, horseshit.  

    The only thing Samsung has gotten better at is failing.  The owners of Viv are simply looking for a buyer so they can take the money and run.  This will be a failure.... just watch.
    watto_cobraSpamSandwichcornchip
  • Reply 19 of 36
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,506member
    Panzarino's article, linked to by Gruber, is necessary to understand some of the implications of this. 

    https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/05/samsung-acquires-viv-a-next-gen-ai-assistant-built-by-creators-of-apples-siri/

    From what I can gather, they've broken through a programming barrier. The AI teaches itself to program itself. Or maybe better, it programs itself to teach itself, to learn what to be aware of. 

    There's also a restatement that voice-enabled AI is the new interface and operating system, which would thus let Samsung leap-frog over its dependency of the alien Android system. The screen as a desktop or app grid would just go away, seems like. No more metaphor — you just talk to your computer assistant.

    Probably Apple already realizes this and is working on something similar, so let Samsung have it, said Tim. And Viv probably had more to gain by seeding AI into another major hardware maker, in fact the one that makes more phones than anybody.

    Edit: like sflocal says above, it might not work out for Samsing. They will have to figure out how to do a humane interface, after all, and that could be a bridge too far for them. 
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 20 of 36
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,795member
    Soli said:
    kudu said:
    If it's a missed opportunity for Apple, so be it. Competition is good all around. Imagine how Apple will innovate in response to this incentive. Ha! 
    I'm not so sure Apple missed anything. Apple has moved so far past the original Siri that I'm not sure that a new AI created by the Siri co-founders would have been workable into their current setup.
    "Apple has moved so far past the original Siri"

    How so? Perception is that Apple dropped the ball on Siri and is being left way behind in Voice UI / AI
    SpamSandwichfrankie
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