Alibaba is working on an Amazon Echo rival that speaks Chinese, report says

Alibaba is working on an Amazon Echo rival that speaks Chinese, report says
PHOTO: Reuters

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is working on a Chinese-language device to rival Amazon's Echo, according to a report published Thursday by The Information.

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.

Alibaba was not immediately available to comment on the report.

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