Barely a day after the reports about Samsung planning its own Bixby-powered voice assistant, Chinese tech giant Alibaba has launched its own version of the same. Alibaba, on Wednesday officially debuted "Tmall Genie," a device that is very similar to the Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speakers but communicates only in Mandarin and is available exclusively in China.
Powered by AliGenie voice assistant, Alibaba is offering much of the same functionality as the Echo, including smart home control, weather, news, music, and a wide range of other skills. It can also be tasked to order and purchase goods from the company's Tmall platform, a function similar to Amazon's Echo device.
The smart speaker costs 499 yuan ($73.42), significantly less than Amazon and Google's devices, which range from $120 to $180. However, if we look at the hardware, the device that will come in black and white options looks quite similar to the Echo. It’s a black cylinder with a downward-facing light ring that illuminates the base of the device when activated.
Baidu, China's top search engine, which has invested in an artificial intelligence lab with the Chinese government, recently launched a device based on its own Siri-like "Duer OS" system.
Digital speakers powered by virtual assistants are the hottest trend in the tech industry presently. After Amazon and Google, Apple too recently joined the fray with its Siri-controlled HomePod.