Briefing: Tencent suspends smart speaker project Tingting

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腾讯首款智能音箱项目叫停,或与组织架构调整有关 – 36Kr

What happened: Chinese tech giant Tencent has reportedly suspended the research and development of its smart speaker Tingting, the company’s first effort to tap the vertical. Tencent suspended the production of the gadget, but its sales and after-sales service will not be affected. Launched in April last year, Tencent Tingting is a voice-based smart speaker, allowing users to access WeChat accounts and send or receive voice messages.

Why it’s important: The suspension of Tingting reveals the internal pains of the Chinese tech giant. In a related business line, Tencent rolled out Alexa-like AI assistant service Jingle in 2017. The relationship between Tingting and Jingle was like that of Echo and Alexa, as well as HomePod and Siri. However, the balance was broken when Jingle released its hardware device in December last year. Putting several teams on similar projects is a tradition in the company, as it aims to drive innovation. Under the mechanism, project leaders develop their teams, which may run several product lines. This team-centric tradition may result in problems during times of business adjustments, as leaders could be reluctant to merge projects given the amount of time they have given to developing their teams.