Alibaba entered the growing field of voice-controlled speakers for the home on Wednesday with the launch of Tmall Genie X1, taking on early leaders Amazon and Google.
With this move the competition in digital speaker-assistants space has got fierce, as Alibaba Group is all set to outrun Amazon Echo ($180), Google Home device ($129) and Apple HomePod ($349) with its comparatively cheaper product, priced at $73, with almost same features.
The device will be available at 499 Yuan ($73.42 or around Rs 4,700) for people during one-month trail period. This is cheaper in compare to all the products available in the market with similar features including Amazon and Google speaker-assistant products.
Currently, Tmall Genie X1 is programmed to use Mandarin as its language. It is activated when a recognised user says “Tmall Genie” in Chinese. It is activated by voice commands to perform tasks, such as checking calendars, searching for weather reports, changing music or control smart-home devices, using Internet connectivity and artificial intelligence.
The device, which comes in black and white, can also be tasked with purchasing goods from the company’s Tmall platform, a function similar to Amazon’s Echo device. The device will go on sale in China on Aug 8.
Many Market Analylists who spoke to Entrackr following the developemnt said Alibaba latest move could be a game-changer as far as taking market lead in specific category is concerned. It will also lead to simplify shopping for 450 million active buyers at China’s biggest online platform.
Of late, Alibaba appeared to have followed Amazon concepts as it recently invested heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalise on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy. It also rolled out unstaffed brick-and-motor grocery and coffee shops, using QR codes that users can scan to complete payment on its Alipay app, which has over 450 million users.
Amazon has already launched a similar concept of stores last year.
Meanwhile, existing Chinese internet giants and competitors Tencent and Baidu are also eyeing the space. Recently, Baidu launched a device based on its own Siri-like “Duer OS” system. Tencent is also reported to be developing a voice-activated digital speaker, which might hit the market this month.
Digital speakers powered by virtual assistants are one of the hottest consumer product categories today. In the fourth quarter, shipment of intelligent home speakers touched 4.2 million (almost 600% surge), where Amazon had 88 percent share and Google managed 10 percent.