Building a global presence can be tricky due to the mismatch of laws and legalities in different regions but the latest Samsung-Baidu AI collaboration is a testament to how companies are finding a way to work around the challenges. The Samsung Galaxy S24 series has been making a splash even before its official arrival as the “first AI phone” to enter the market, powered by the Google AI, Gemini. This works out just fine in the Western markets and highlights an exceedingly successful collaboration between the two tech giants, but maintaining the same presence in the world’s largest smartphone market, China, requires a few adjustments and Samsung is clearly willing to make them. Samsung will feature the Baidu Ernie AI chatbot on its Galaxy S24 devices in the Chinese market, which is a big step forward for Baidu.
Why the Samsung-Baidu AI Collaboration?
Baidu’s AI chatbot, Ernie, was launched last year in August after it received the necessary approvals from the Chinese government. Much like its predecessor chatbots, the AI is designed to answer questions and hold conversations with its users. The Ernie bot was launched around the same time as other major companies like SenseTime and Baichuan also launched their own AI services, with Chinese media reporting that 11 firms received the necessary approvals, having met the standards set by the government for AI. Reuters reported on the situation in August, stating that Baidu was planning on releasing a series of AI apps that could be used in collaboration with their primary chatbot with the aim of widening their net of AI applications.
While the Baidu AI chatbot is available outside of China, the tool primarily works in Chinese only, which works out just fine for the Samsung-Baidu AI team-up but has reduced use outside of China. Apps and tech in China are more restricted than in other regions and the country primarily prefers to have services that are developed within their borders. As such, while Android devices are available in the market, there are often modifications and concessions made to the device—smartphones do not come preinstalled with Google services like Gmail or Google Play Store. Chinese phone makers develop their own native UIs for their smartphones, making the Xiaomi App Store or the Tencent MyApp a more popular alternative to something designed outside. Apps like WhatsApp are entirely banned in the region and alternate services like WeChat and QQ are used instead.
Inevitably, Google’s AI has no space on the market in the region but to bring the promised features with the Samsung Galaxy S24 series, the company had to find an alternative to the service in order to adhere to the local regulations. China is the world’s largest smartphone market and made up 22.5 percent of global smartphone shipments in 2022 according to Counterpoint Research. The International Data Corporation recently reported that China’s smartphone shipments in 2023 added up to 271.3 million units which was lower than the numbers in 2022, but was still considerable.
Capitalizing on this market remains a priority for smartphone makers, especially for Samsung, which held second place in the global market with a 16.3 percent share of global shipments in 2023, right after Apple’s 24.7 percent share and closely followed by Xiaomi’s 12.5 percent share, according to Reuters. Samsung, however, did not feature among the top 5 in the Chinese smartphone market shareholders in 2023, which means it has a lot of catching up to do this year.
Is the Baidu Ernie AI Chatbot Different from the Google AI Services?
If you’re wondering how the Samsung Baidu AI will be different from its Google AI counterpart, there likely won’t be too many differences in terms of its services. The features that were demoed with the original Samsung Galaxy S24 series launch on 17 January will be replicated by the Baidu Ernie AI as well. The same language translation and summarization features should be available through the Baidu AI chatbot. The latest version of the AI, Ernie 4.0, was launched back in October and the company equated its functioning to that of GPT-4. We might not get to personally witness the actual capabilities of this collaboration between the two companies but reviews should be out soon to help us understand how well the AI bot works out.
“Now featuring Ernie’s understanding and generation capabilities, the upgraded Samsung Note Assistant can translate content and also summarize lengthy content into clear, intelligently organized formats at the click of a button, streamlining the organization of extensive text,” Samsung reported to CNBC.
The base Galaxy S24 ranges between ¥5,999 to ¥6,999, the Galaxy S24 Plus ranges from ¥7,499 to ¥8,499, and the top-end Galaxy S24 Ultra is priced between ¥10,199 to ¥13,199. The Samsung Galaxy S24 prices in the U.S. range between $799 to $859.99, the Galaxy S24 Plus ranges between $999.99 and $1119.99, and finally, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is priced from $1299.99 to $1659.99. The company has put all its resources into pushing the Samsung Galaxy S24 series to capitalize on the AI craze that has taken hold of makers and consumers since 2022, and they appear hopeful that this will be sufficient to boost its position in the smartphone market in China, and globally as well.