Alibaba Announces Tmall Genie Smart Speaker

Alibaba has announced that it is to enter the smart speaker market, with its Tmall Genie product. The device will be full voice-controlled, and will be able to access music, run apps, and enable users to buy items from Alibaba's online retail stores. At first, the item will be released as a limited beta test in order to complete the final testing phases of development, before being launched fully for a price of around 499 yuan. It has been confirmed that at launch Tmall Genie will only be able to understand Mandarin, and will only be sold in China. This comes not long after Tencent announced it was developing a similar item for the Chinese market. Eden Zoller from the technology consultancy Ovum commented on Alibaba's announcement, saying that “it clearly is an advantage if – like Amazon – you can pull consumers into your retail ecosystem with a smart speaker”. Alibaba addressed security concerns surrounding the device with the implementation of voiceprint-technology to try to restrict purchases to recognised users.