Alibaba: Huge investment fireworks in the IoT sector

Alibaba: Huge investment fireworks in the IoT sector

22. May 2020 0 By Horst Buchwald

Alibaba: Huge investment fireworks in the IoT sector

Beijing, 22.5.2020

Alibaba plans to invest 10 billion yuan (1.15 billion dollars) to strengthen its AI system and the Internet of Things (IoT). The smart speaker “Tmall Genie” is to play an important role in this.

The plan also includes the integration of Alipay mini-applications and more content and services from Alibaba’s broader offering, which includes entertainment, healthcare, online shopping and education. More than 1,100 brands are already associated with Tmall Genie, as well as 270 million devices in China, offering services to meet various needs in consumers’ daily lives.

The Chinese e-commerce giant added that it plans to develop proprietary AI and IoT technologies to enhance the natural voice and visual interaction between the smart speaker and consumers. This development work would be done alongside his cloud and R&D unit, Alibaba Cloud and Alibaba DAMO Academy.

From July 1, mini-apps currently running on its Alipay mobile payment platform will be integrated into Tmall Genie. In addition, their live streaming service with merchants on their online marketplace Taobao can be viewed on the Smart Speaker screen. In addition, Alibaba intends to become a hardware and software powerhouse with the introduction of its Hanguang 800 artificial intelligence chip.

Referring to research companies IDC and Euromonitor, Alibaba said Tmall Genie has a share of more than 35% of the Chinese market and is the country’s leader in terms of equipment shipments. According to Canalys, about 3.89 million units of Alibaba’s intelligent loudspeaker were shipped in the third quarter of 2019, 77.6% more than last year. This corresponded to a global market share of 13.6%. Genie is only available in China.

Alibaba said its latest investment will lead to more internally developed AI and IoT technologies, including its IoT operating system, edge computing, and visual and speech-based AI software such as its Natural Language Processing technology.

“Tmall Genie will also share its latest AI and IoT technologies, vertical market knowledge, product design capabilities, rich content and service capabilities with partners to jointly develop intelligent products such as refrigerators, vacuum cleaner robots and smart sportswear,” a spokesperson added.

Wei Ku, head of development at Tmall Genie, pointed out that the goal is to provide a richer user experience through the intelligent speaker. “We are also working with other brands to offer our AI and IoT technology, design ideas and go-to-market advice to enable them to explore the possibilities of the AI and IoT era and bring more smart products to market to make consumers’ daily lives easier too,” said Wei Ku.

One retailer, fast food chain KFC, recently teamed up with Tmall Genie to enable consumers to order items from the restaurant’s breakfast menu by viewing and selecting their choices on screen. Orders can be placed via a voice payment feature and can be picked up from a network of 5,000 KFC stores across China. This ordering service will be introduced in the second half of 2020.

In a separate announcement, Alibaba said that service providers in China have developed more than 800 mini-programs for Alipay in the past two months, each of which supports more than 10,000 active users per month.

These results were achieved through Alibaba’s three-year plan announced in March 2020 to bring 40 million service providers across China to the mobile payment platform and expand the types of services available to consumers.

According to Alibaba, Alipay currently serves more than 1.2 billion users worldwide through its global partners.

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