It looks like the rumours of Alibaba competing with Amazon’s Echo have crystalised into something concrete. The Chinese online retailer has revealed the Tmall Genie, a voice activated smart speaker that does everything the Echo does; only in Chinese.
As far as looks go, there’s not much different about the Tmall Genie. It’s still a cylinder with a downwards facing speaker. Although that can be said for just about every smart speaker on set to join the market at this point in time. Even Apple has not been about to get around the design.
The heart of the Tmall Genie is the AliGenie voice assistant; which is activated by saying the product’s name in Mandarin. From there, it has the standard functions of a smart speaker, playing music, conducting internet searches, smart home control, and checking messages. It can also be told to order goods from Tmall.
As far as we can tell, the product page also says that the Genie will be able to book movie tickets and order food in the future. Which isn’t too ambitious considering that one can find almost anything on Alibaba’s network of online affiliates.
It’s likely that the product will be exclusive to China for the near future. However, Alibaba has been aggressively expanding into Southeast Asia and may try to get a head start over all the competition by bringing the smart speaker into the region first.