Xiaomi Launches Bluetooth Speaker in India With Multiple Voice Assistant Options
Xiaomi launched a new Bluetooth speaker in India this week that supports Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Amazon Alexa voice assistants. The Mi Outdoor speaker is yet another entrant to the increasingly competitive market in India for voice-enabled devices.
The Bluetooth speaker costs 1,400 rupees or a little under $20. The Mi Outdoor is clearly catering to people who want to have music while mobile, with what Xiaomi claims is up to 20 hours worth of playback per battery charge while being the loudest in its class. The speaker includes a button that will call up the voice assistant on whatever device it is connected to. Because it relies on another device instead of connecting to the voice assistant directly, the speaker is ecumenical and can call up Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant depending on what it is hooked up to at the moment. It has another button for people to answer or end phone calls as well. The speaker does not have direct access to the Xiao AI voice assistant, but its flexibility suggests that it could be an option in the future.
The appeal of mobile speakers with access to voice assistants is pretty clear. Though the Xiaomi speaker is very cheap, there are plenty of high-end options, like the Bose revealed its Portable Home Speaker and the Sonos Move. The two devices, which cost $349 and $400 respectively, can be networked into a speaker system in a home, or support a voice assistant via a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone when outside the range of Wifi. Then there’s the Amazon Echo Input, which the company launched exclusively in India last year. Unlike the other speakers, the Input is more like a mobile Echo Dot, designed for carrying around a home from room to room. It’s more for extending access to Alexa within a home, but the principle of mobile voice assistant access is still there.
Indian Voice Competition
That Xiaomi decided to launch this speaker in India speaks yet again to that country’s rapidly heating voice tech market. Just last week, Panasonic debuted an entire smart home AI platform in India. Like the Mi Outdoor, the platform is compatible with more than one voice assistant and can be controlled by either Alexa or Google Assistant. And like Xiaomi, Panasonic sees fast growth coming for the Indian smart device market.
While not part of the Panasonic platform, Apple announced that it will start selling its HomePod smart speaker last month, adding support for English and Hindi hybrid Hinglish to Siri at the same time. Amazon and Google are well-practiced in selling voice tech in India. In September, Google even partnered with Vodaphone to set up a free, dedicated phone line for people to call Google Assistant from any phone. Amazon has been pushing Alexa in India as well. Along with the portable smart speaker, Amazon just started selling the Echo Show 8 in India after adding support for Hindi and Hinglish to Alexa in September.
Amazon sells more smart speakers in India, followed by Google, according to a report last year from IDC. That said, Google Assistant leads when it comes to Hindi voice apps, with about ten times as many Google Actions in Hindi compared to Alexa Skills. That won’t change who buys the Mi Outdoor speakers, but it could affect which voice assistant people use with it.