Huawei launched a speaker Friday that doubles up as an internet router and features Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, as it looks to challenge the likes of Google and Apple.
It marks the first time the Chinese technology giant has entered the smart speaker space.
The AI Cube looks very similar to the Google Home product, but Huawei has tried to differentiate itself from the competition by building in a 4G mobile internet router. That means people will be able to use it like a Wi-Fi hub as well.
Amazon Alexa is built into Huawei’s device, allowing people to use all the different features that the e-commerce giant’s voice assistant provide. That includes the numerous “skills” or apps that developers are building on Alexa.
Huawei currently does not have its own voice assistant technology. Using Alexa allows it to have a readily available voice assistant in several languages including German and English.
The AI Cube will initially be released in Europe toward the holiday season at the end of the year. Huawei did not say whether it would be available in the U.S. or China later, or the pricing of the device.
Even though it is using Alexa, Huawei’s AI Cube still competes with Amazon‘s Echo devices, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod. The value of the nascent smart speaker market is expected to balloon to $17.4 billion in 2022 from $4.4 billion in 2017, according to data from research firm IDC. Huawei is hoping to get a big slice of that pie.
The Chinese firm has already seen huge growth in other consumer electronics products, particularly smartphones, where it recently dislodged Apple as the second-largest player by market share.
Huawei‘s smart speaker and router combination seems to have been in the works for some time. Last year, a senior executive at the company told CNBC that Huawei was looking at a way to integrate voice technology into its Wi-Fi routers.