Alibaba accuses Baidu of copying as smart speaker race heats up

1 min read
Baidu’s smart speaker, Play. (Image credit: Baidu)

Baidu has been accused of copying Alibaba on the design of its latest smart speaker, a consumer electronics segment attracting intense competition among Chinese tech giants because it is seen as a gateway for smart home ecosystems.

Baidu’s latest smart speaker model, the Xiaodu Play, features several design details similar to those on the Tmall Genie R, which Alibaba released three months ago. Alibaba posted a comparison chart on its social media account late Wednesday displaying five points of resemblance between the two products, including pop art designs, color, gradient speaker holes, and concave buttons.

Li Jianye, design lead for the Tmall Genie, said the smart speaker has several blind holes along with the two microphone jacks for aesthetics, and an idea that was “copied exactly by Baidu.”

Baidu denied the allegations on Thursday, saying that it is leading the market due to its independent, well-grounded design philosophy, as well as research and development (R & D) strengths. “Don’t attack against us because we are now the number one,” (our translation) Jiemian reported citing a Baidu spokesperson.

Baidu did not respond to request for comment when contacted by TechNode on Friday.

Baidu unveiled three of its Xiaodu-branded smart speaker devices at the company’s annual developer conference earlier this week, all powered by DuerOS 5.0, the latest version of its voice assistant software.

Robin Li showed off the company’s recent achievements in speech recognition at the opening session, demonstrating how the artificial intelligence (AI)-based assistant interacts with users in a continuous dialogue without the need to activate the device with a wake word.

Rivalries among tech giants in the smart speaker market is rising in China, as the gadget is widely seen as an entry point into consumer smart home ecosystems. According to data from market research firm Canalys, Baidu shipped 3.3 million smart speakers in the first three months of 2019, surpassing Alibaba and ranking first in China. Alibaba had dominated the market following momentum gained from selling an excess of 1 million units during its Singles Day shopping event in November 2017.