Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd would launch a product mimicking Amazon.com Inc’s “Echo” next week, according to a source familiar with the matter.
“Amazon Echo”, launched in 2014, is a speaker which one can leave on all day and give voice commands to, similar to Siri on an Apple Inc iPhone.
Alibaba’s new product would be made available only in China and speak only Mandarin, the source told Reuters.
Apple and Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, have unveiled products similar to Echo with the HomePod and Google Home.
The Information, a technology website, was the first to report the news on Thursday. (bit.ly/2t5bhU4)
Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment, outside business hours.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)
The device could come as early as next week, people familiar with the matter told The Information. The device could potentially understand Chinese voice commands and, like the Echo, allow Alibaba’s core users to buy products from shopping sites, The Information said.
Though Alibaba is often dubbed “The Amazon of China,” Alibaba founder Jack Ma has said that Amazon is closer to a retailer while Alibaba is more like a small business ecosystem. Still, the two companies compete in similar areas outside of shopping, including movies, cloud, groceries and artificial intelligence.
Ma has said that American companies should be “careful, not afraid” of Alibaba.” Still, the Chinese market has proven elusive for many American technology companies.
And increasingly, tech companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Alibaba are looking internationally for growth. If The Information is correct, all four companies will have voice-activated speakers as of this year.
By Anita Balakrishnan| CNBC