Yandex launches $160 smart speaker for digital assistant 'Alice'

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Moscow-based Internet firm Yandex launched a $160 smart speaker on Tuesday to work with its digital assistant ‘Alice’, becoming the latest challenger to take on the leading voice-activated home helpers from Silicon Valley.

Yandex is targeting the Russian-speaking market with its Yandex.Station speaker, as well as a platform on which third-party developers can program Alice to order pizza, check mobile phone bills or buy plane tickets.

Yandex, which listed on New York’s tech-focused Nasdaq exchange in 2011 and has a market value of $11 billion, launched Alice last autumn to operate on mobile and desktop search, as well as on its in-car navigation app.

It said in a statement it would bundle the new product with a free one-year subscription to Yandex.Plus - which includes music streaming, discounts on taxi rides and ad-free web TV - that would normally cost $2.75 a month.

Yandex joins European companies like Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica in launching me-too smart speaker products into a market dominated by Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine