Announced at IFA 2018 Berlin, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has just announced its first ever smart speaker, the AI Cube. With Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant smarts on board, the AI Cube additionally sports an internet router within. Strangely enough, it comes in a form factor and design reminiscent of the Google Home, Google’s mid-sized, router-less smart speaker option that it could very well be one of its main competitors.
Perhaps unusually for a Chinese manufacturer, Huawei’s AI Cube (which really isn’t a cube) has Amazon Alexa built in. The American e-commerce giant’s incredibly popular voice assistant stands in for Huawei’s lack of an internally-developed option. This gives the Chinese manufacturer the ability to churn out smart speakers available in several languages, including English and German which are spoken in Europe where it will be initially released.
Huawei has not expressed if the AI Cube will be released in the rest of the world, and has not announced the price of the device.
Its utilisation of Alexa is a calculated cost that might pay off. With well-developed language capabilities and a full-fledged set of services and features, Amazon Alexa acts as a short-cut into the arena with the big players: Google Home and Apple’s HomePod.
Chinese adoption of smart speakers has grown exponentially over the last few years, with a plethora of options including the very prominent T-Mall Genie showcased at CES Asia 2018 earlier this year. Huawei’s AI Cube also marks the first time a Chinese smart speaker has been released abroad, a logistical challenge given translation, technical and bureaucratic barriers.