Moscow-based Internet firm Yandex launched a $160 (roughly Rs. 10,800) smart speaker on Tuesday to work with its digital assistant ‘Alice’, becoming the latest challenger to take on the leading voice-activated home helpers from Silicon Valley.
Yandex is targeting the Russian-speaking market with its Yandex. Station speaker, as well as a platform on which third-party developers can programme Alice to order pizza, check mobile phone bills or buy plane tickets.
Yandex, which listed on New York’s tech-focused Nasdaq exchange in 2011 and has a market value of $11 billion (roughly Rs. 74,300 crores), launched Alice last autumn to operate on mobile and desktop search, as well as on its in-car navigation app.
It said in a statement it would bundle the new product with a free one-year subscription to Yandex.Plus – which includes music streaming, discounts on taxi rides and ad-free web TV – that would normally cost $2.75 (roughly Rs. 186) a month.
Yandex joins European companies like Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica in launching me-too smart speaker products into a market dominated by Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
Earlier this year, Yandex completed its deal with Uber to combine their ride-sharing businesses in Russia and neighbouring countries. Uber and Yandex announced plans last year to combine operations in 127 cities in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
San Francisco-based Uber has invested $225 million (roughly Rs. 1,519 crores) and Yandex has contributed $100 million (roughly Rs. 675 crores) in cash into a new joint company valued at more than $3.8 billion (roughly Rs. 2,56,00 crore), Yandex said.
© Thomson Reuters 2018