Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has unveiled a digital home speaker which is much cheaper compared to Google’s Home, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s Echo and the much anticipated HomePod from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Meanwhile, Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) has announced launching its autonomous driving Apollo Project which currently has over 50 partners among them global tech suppliers NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
Following the announcement of the launch of the AI-powered speaker called Tmall Genie, Alibaba has now officially entered the smart speaker market. The full-sized speaker will retail at around $73 and is set to enter into competition with major companies like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
The new product shares a portion of its name with Tmall, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform. Like other products which are alreadu in the market, user of the new product can use it to chech their weather or calendar and at the same time use the speaker to control other home gadgets. To use the device, users only say “Tmall Genie” after which the device will be prompted to listen and follow the commands. It is pre-programmed to work with Mandarin and is currently available only in China.
The device can be commanded to buy products from the Tmall platform the same way Alexa follows commands to buy a product from Amazon for a user. Like Amazon, Alibaba has heavily been investing in innovative brick-and-mortar stores.
Although the Tmall Genie offers comes at around $100 cheaper than the Amazon’s Echo, it lacks the ecosystem that comes with Echo. Within just a few years of its launch, the Alexa ecosystem reported good performance compared to its competitors in the market.
According to a recent research, Alexa has over 15,000 skills in its portfolio. Google, which is its biggest competitor, has only 378. For Alibaba to make a strong entry into the market, it will have to maintain an open ecosystem in addition to removing any barriers to development on its platform. Alibaba is known for topping the list of the most valuable brands in China. This could be a boost to the company’s move to make the speaker easily adoptable in the market.