Samsung Electronics Co is the underdog in the smart speaker race as it is yet to launch its own product in 2018. With Amazon, Apple and Google leading the voice-controlled device race by a mile, what can the world's biggest smartphone maker offer?

Samsung is looking to launch its first smart speaker in the first half of 2018, according to Bloomberg. In its report, the forthcoming device is said to deliver "a strong focus on audio quality", as well as the management of connected home appliances like lights and locks.

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The smart speaker will arrive with Samsung's digital voice assistant Bixby on board. It will also sync with Samsung's TVs, Galaxy smartphones and other hardware products.

Samsung's smart speaker will be available for US$200 in a couple of markets including the US. Amazon's Echo starts at US$100, Apple's HomePod at US$349 and Alphabet's Google Home at US$129.

Samsung's pricing and release plans may change. At the moment, the company is working on improving the device's ability to perform web searches through voice commands.

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Smart speakers are not the driving force of sales of these players at present. But technology research company Gartner foresees the voice-activated speaker industry to become a US$3.5bn market by 2021.

An early prototype of the speaker appears to be smaller than Echo and bigger than HomePod. The variant will be available in multiple colour options on top of the matte black prototype. According to sources, Samsung's smart speaker does not have a screen contrary to what previously reported.