SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Alibaba Group Holding will invest 10 billion yuan ($ 1.41 billion) in an artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) system centered around the Tmall Genie smart speaker, announced the company this Wednesday.
The announcement comes as the e-commerce giant continues its search for new technologies and business sectors, in addition to online shopping.
The money will be used to add more content to Tmall Genie, in addition to developing proprietary technology, Alibaba said.
The company launched the first model of the Tmall Genie in 2017.
Like Amazon Echo, which is not for sale in China, the smart speaker can interact with users through a voice interface to play music, provide weather information and perform other functions.
The company has launched several models since then, including devices with screens. The latest model, announced on Wednesday, costs 549 yuan ($ 77.28) and comes with a 10-inch screen.
Alibaba competes with Xiaomi and Baidu in the smart speaker sector.
In 2019, Alibaba sent 16.8 million smart speakers to consumers, while Baidu sent 17.3 million, according to research firm Canalys.
(By Josh Horwitz)