Alibaba is the latest technology giant to unveil a smart speaker. The voice-controlled Tmall Genie can be used to play music, run third-party apps and buy goods from the Chinese retail giant’s online stores. Like many such devices, it lacks a display. At launch, it will understand only Mandarin and be sold in the company’s domestic market. It will compete in China against devices already launched by Baidu and JD.com. Tencent – China’s biggest technology company by market capitalisation – has announced it has a similar product in development. In the West, Amazon’s Echo range of smart speakers compete against Google Home. Apple and Microsoft have similar products scheduled for release soon. And Samsung is readying a speaker of its own, powered by its new Bixby virtual assistant, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Smarter shopping Alibaba’s new product derives its name from the company’s e-commerce platform – Tmall – and during a demonstration in Beijing was used to order a delivery of Coca-Cola and buy credit for a phone. Tmall allows local and international retailers to run their own virtual storefronts on its platform and says it is China’s third most visited shopping site….