Alibaba Is Challenging Google and Amazon With a New Echo-Like Device


The competition in digital speaker-assistants is getting more intense, as Alibaba Group unfurled an Amazon Echo-like device and fellow Chinese internet giants Tencent and Baidu prepare to develop their own.

Alibaba’s “Tmall Genie X1” will go for 499 yuan, or about $73, to the first 1,000 people during a one-month trial, coming in below Apple’s $349 HomePod and the roughly $180 Echo. The company’s biggest competitor, Tencent Holdings, is developing a voice-activated digital speaker that could hit the market within months, Tencent President Martin Lau said in a May interview. And on Wednesday, Baidu showed off its own “DuerOS” personal assistant.

Taking a page from Amazon and Google, Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group Holding’s speaker offers voice-controlled services from music streaming to newscasts and calendar-booking, according to its website. Importantly, the gadget — powered by the AliGenie system — may eventually simplify shopping for the Chinese e-commerce giant’s 450 million active buyers who turn to the website for everything from cherries to makeup. It will begin formal sales from August 8 only for China and won’t come with a display.

The competition in digital speaker-assistants is getting more intense, as Alibaba Group unfurled an Amazon Echo-like device and fellow Chinese internet giants Tencent and Baidu prepare to develop their own.

Alibaba’s “Tmall Genie X1” will go for 499 yuan, or about $73, to the first 1,000 people during a one-month trial, coming in below Apple’s $349 HomePod and the roughly $180 Echo. The company’s biggest competitor, Tencent Holdings, is developing a voice-activated digital speaker that could hit the market within months, Tencent President Martin Lau said in a May interview. And on Wednesday, Baidu showed off its own “DuerOS” personal assistant.

Taking a page from Amazon and Google, Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group Holding’s speaker offers voice-controlled services from music streaming to newscasts and calendar-booking, according to its website. Importantly, the gadget — powered by the AliGenie system — may eventually simplify shopping for the Chinese e-commerce giant’s 450 million active buyers who turn to the website for everything from cherries to makeup. It will begin formal sales from August 8 only for China and won’t come with a display.

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