Artificial intelligence is the new frontier in cutting-edge technology and the smart speaker is the new way for big tech companies to get in on the action. Amazon has already set a pace that Apple swiftly followed. Amazon’s range of Echo smart speakers has been doing well with sales and is now the benchmark for smart speakers at the moment.
With a slate of new Alexa software upgrades being released every so often, it’s not hard to see why Amazon is leading the pack. Apple’s Siri is in a hotly contested battle to win the masses and is not doing so bad itself, with promises to launch its Homepod smart speaker which Apple guarantees will have immaculate sound. The two might be enjoying their time now since they only have each other to contend with. However, Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant is set to become the next big name to enter the fray with their own device which was launched in July.
Alibaba To Expand Its Voice-Enabled Speaker Into New Markets
After the Hangzhou-based company launched the Tmall Genie they are now looking to extend its reach to become more effective various industries. The device, which borrows its name from the tech giant’s e-commerce platform, is said to incorporate a broader spectrum of applications than any smart speaker out right now.
The Tmall Genie is set to extend its application into a number of service industries including the hotel, air travel and retail industries. The speaker, which is developed by Alibaba’s Al Labs, is going to enable such industries work better in the “hands-free mode.” When you think about it, the applications will prove to be very practical as the speakers will be installed in hotel rooms to help guests enjoy their stay better and in supermarkets so you can ask for the soap aisle without having to trouble the attendants.
Speaking about the fairly new product in an Alibaba computing conference held recently, Chen Lijuan, general manager at Aliababa, said the voice-enabled speaker ushered in a new era where we could get a lot done just by using our eyes, ears and mouth; the era of artificial intelligence.
A Demonstration of Smart Shopping
Alibaba gave a snippet of the Tmall Genie’s capabilities at its launch as the device was used to buy a cell phone, some airtime, and order a coke delivery. The voice-controlled gadget lacks a display screen like every other device in its class. Its functionality includes playing music, buying goods from Alibaba’s online store and running third-party applications.
Speaking to the South China Morning post, Chen said that Alibaba’s new speaker can reach and surpass Amazon’s Echo. According to Chen, the Tmall Genie should outsell Echo since it has a wider spectrum of clients who will find every-day use in it.
Aptly named Tmall, Alibaba’s online retail platform will become much busier than before with this new shopping options. As Tmall is China’s most visited shopping site, it is a clear advantage that should bring Alibaba’s retail ecosystem together. Alibaba should register higher sales numbers once the initial apprehension about buying goods online wears off from customers.
Coming Late To The Party May Just Work In Alibaba’s Favor
Founder of Amazon promotions site Lodlois, Matt White, points out that when the smart speaker first came out, no one really understood what it was supposed to do but it did not take long before people warmed up to it. As a matter of fact, Amazon’s smart speaker is selling at twice the induction price of Tmall Genie. Chen says that this is good for them and they have no doubt that the Tmall Genie will take a shorter time to reach the 10 million units sales benchmark they are hoping for. The Alibaba Group is experiencing vigorous growth and currently has businesses in finance, travel, logistics, shopping and entertainment which should bolster the new product.
Other companies in the Chinese tech market, Baidu and JD.com, have also launched such devices in the Chinese market. Tencent, another Asian tech giant, has also announced that its own smart speaker is soon to be launched. With all the competition brewing in the Chinese market it should be interesting how the market share will be split.