Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to introduce a digital personal assistant similar to Amazon.com Inc.'s Echo device as soon as next week, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The home device, powered by voice-recognition technology, will be targeted at Chinese consumers. Among other features, the device will allow people to use verbal commands to buy products from Alibaba's shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall, the person said.
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Alibaba's device, which was first reported by the Information, will likely heighten the competition for Amazon, Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Apple Inc. when they look to market their own digital assistants in China.
Chinese search-engine giant Baidu Inc. launched its own voice-controlled home robot, called Little Fish, in April. It includes a tablet screen that allows users to perform searches, order food and play music and movies.
Alibaba's smaller e-commerce rival JD.com Inc. already sells a smart home speaker, called Dingdong, and has been touting an upgrade that allows Chinese consumers to use the device to practice their English.
These and other Chinese technology companies, including Tencent Holdings Ltd., control the lion's share of the domestic market for online retail, music, live-streaming video and search, among other services.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 30, 2017 08:32 ET (12:32 GMT)