All you need to know about Tmall Genie, the Alibaba's launched Amazon Echo-rival

Alibaba trademark

One of the greatest tech companies in China and of course in the world, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Wednesday launched a cut-price voice assistant speaker, similar to Inc's "Echo", which is basically an artificially intelligent home device.

The "Tmall Genie", named after the company's e-commerce platform Tmall, costs 499 yuan ($73.42), significantly less than western counterparts by Amazon and Alphabet Inc's Google , which range from $120 to $180.

This device becomes active via voice commands and its activities are centered on checking calendars, searching for weather reports, changing music or controlling smart-home devices, using internet connectivity and artificial intelligence.

As it relates to artificial intelligence, China's top tech firms are gearing up to become the world leaders in artificial intelligence as companies, including Alibaba and Amazon, increasingly compete for the same markets.

The Tmall Genie is currently programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a recognised user says "Tmall Genie" in Chinese.

In a streamed demonstration on Wednesday, engineers ordered the device to buy and deliver some Coca Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV.


The device, which comes in black and white, can also be tasked with purchasing goods from the company's Tmall platform, a function which can also be found in Amazon's Echo device.

Alibaba has 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, increasingly drawing comparisons with similar strategies adopted by Amazon.

It recently began rolling 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 launched a similar concept of stores in December last year.

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