Lenovo is entering the digital assistant marketplace with their Smart Assistant speaker, which will soon be available in China and the U.S. Following in the footsteps of the Amazon Echo, could Lenovo’s speaker be a big hit on both ends of the Earth?
Lenovo, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, is setting its sights on the digital Assistant marketplace with their new Smart Assistant speaker. The voice-controlled speaker is going to be sold in the U.S. in May, but it’ll hit the Chinese market as early as this March, according to company spokesman Jeff Witt.
The only difference between the two models will be the speech recognition technology used. The Chinese model will use technology provided by AISpeech, while the U.S. version will sport Amazon’s popular Alexa voice assistant.
The State of AI Assistants
In the U.S., Amazon has spoiled consumers with the Echo since late 2014. By contrast, Lenovo’s Smart Assistant will be one of the first smart speakers to hit the Chinese markets.
China’s smart speaker market is fresh enough so that Lenovo will be facing less competition than in the U.S. Less competition, however, doesn’t mean that there is no competition. LingLong, a tech company in China, has been selling the DingDong smart speaker since last year, and Baidu is busy developing their model using their proprietary tech and a little assistance from Harman.
By entering the smart speaker market, Lenovo is showing how quickly voice-controlled tech is catching on with both manufacturers and consumers. They join big names like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, who have been putting voice controls in everything from computers to smartphones.
Consumers are buying smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo, by the millions in the U.S. and U.K. The Echo is a particular inspiration for Lenovo, or rather, it is a fundamental component of their Smart Assistant.
Smart Assistant Only in Earshot of Amazon
As I mentioned earlier, Smart Assistant uses Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, and Amazon should be proud. Their voice-controlled technology platform is so popular that big names are copying them just to get a piece of market share.
Lenovo and Amazon have been collaborating for about a year, so the move is entirely above board. According to Amazon spokeswoman Kinley Pearsall, “We’re excited to be working with Lenovo to integrate Alexa into their devices.”
Both companies stand to gain from this union. When you look into buying your smart speaker, you’ll see more than one option that uses Alexa. The more devices around the world that use Amazon’s tech, the more Amazon will ultimately benefit.
“We’re excited to be working with Lenovo to integrate Alexa into their devices.” -Kinley Pearsall
Lenovo, for their part, get a slice of the market while simultaneously having the chance to outdo their competition in an already saturated market.
The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Lenovo will be adding Alexa to future PCs, and Lenovo is not committing to an answer yet, but there is certainly a chance. If Lenovo can carve out a market for smart speakers in areas where the other tech giants aren’t selling their products, they have an opportunity to make a name for Smart Assistant.
As always, we’ll be keeping an eye (or maybe an ear) on their efforts.
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