The Tmall Genie is a smart speaker developed by Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, using the intelligent personal assistant service AliGenie. Introduced in July 2017, the device consists of a cylindrical body with omni-directional speakers and an LED light ring at the bottom of the device. As with other smart speakers, the Genie supports web searches, music streaming, home-control automation devices, and placing orders for products from Tmall. Voice interaction with the device is currently limited to Mandarin, but plans to extend voice recognition to include Sichuanese, Cantonese, and eventually all major Chinese dialects were announced in March 2019 when Alibaba allocated 100 million yuan (US$15 million) for research and development.
|Release date||July 2017 (limited beta)|
August 8, 2017 (China)
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Dimensions||83 mm (3.27 in) diameter, 126 mm (4.96 in) high|
|Mass||400 g (0.88 lb)|
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Consumers in smaller cities, especially older ones [read: those who are older (not older cities)], are not always ‘savvy with keyboards’, says an Alibaba representative, and are more likely to treat smart speakers as a companion, calling up traditional operas or health information, or audio-books for grandchildren left in their charge. Younger consumers may be more comfortable in putonghua [Chinese for Mandarin (meaning: "common speech")], but that does not mean that dialects will disappear, because speaking a dialect feels like ‘home’, she adds.
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