NetEase Tech, 6/11/18
Chinese internet conglomerate Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) recently launched a new, low-cost smart speaker called Xiaodu at an event in Beijing. The speaker retails for RMB 259 and is currently available for early adopters at a special price of RMB 89.
The new Xiaodu smart speaker has a cylindrical shape without any display screen. It carries an ARM Cortext 4 processor and has a 360-degree sound field with 5-meter audio pickup range. The speaker can keep track of the user's interests and provide increasingly customized services as it learns more about the user. It also features a children's mode with child-specific noises and customized chat behavior. Baidu claims that when in child-mode, the device's "unsavory content" response rate is lower than 0.0006%. In addition, the Xiaodu smart speaker also features a "geek mode" which activates support for continuous conversational dialogue.
Baidu's also announced that it will launch a new "Xiaodu Mall" sales channel, which will mainly sell Baidu hardware products and will partner closely with online and mobile express delivery service S.F. Express (002352.SZ).
Jing Kun, head of Baidu's smart life services business group, said that as of the end of May 2018 the number of activated smart devices using Baidu's DuerOS operating system exceeds 87 mln, including 21.4 mln monthly active devices. The DuerOS platform has more than 200 enterprises, over 100 devices controllable using DuerOS have been launched, and the platform has more than 13,000 developers.
Editor's Note: The new budget Xiaodu speaker rounds out Baidu's portfolio of smart speaker products, following the launch of its RMB 1,700 Raven H last November, and its mid-range (RMB 600) Xiaodu Zaijia (which includes display screens) released this March. Uptake of the Raven H, which is 3 times more expensive than the smart speakers released by rivals Alibaba and Xiaomi, has been lackluster, with sales reportedly reaching less than 10,000 units.