Jul 5, 2017

Alibaba latest to launch a smart speaker as competition heats up


China's Alibaba on Wednesday launched the Tmall Genie, its take on a smart speaker along the lines of Amazon's Echo. The speaker is launching in beta form for roughly $75 (499 Chinese Yuan).

Alibaba joins Google and Apple in entering the category, though Apple's HomePod isn't due out until the end of this year. Samsung is also said to be working on its own device, though it has struggled to get its Bixby voice assistant working well enough for English-speaking users.

Why it matters: A lot of tech giants are betting that voice assistants and the devices they can control are one of the next frontiers of computing.

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What to watch in tonight's debate

Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his opponents are ready to try to knock him down at tonight's debate in Charleston, South Carolina β€” especially Michael Bloomberg, who was the punching bag at the Las Vegas debate.

Why it matters: This is the last debate before Super Tuesday, when Sanders is expected to win California and Texas and could secure an insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination. That's a direct threat to the entire field, but especially to Bloomberg, who skipped the early states to focus on the March 3 contests.

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

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