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Google Home smart speaker gets Mini and Max versions

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The smart speaker market gets two new entries from Google today. The Google Home family grows with smaller and larger siblings, which are designed to meet their competition from Amazon and Apple.

The Google Home Mini is a smaller companion to the standard Google Home smart speaker, and is also the cheapest in the family. It’s designed like Amazon’s Echo Dot, with its miniature and friendlier-looking form factor. It connects with other speakers wirelessly and can stream music to a Chromecast-enabled speaker if you want it to.

It has Google Assistant built in like any other Google Home product. It’s actually meant to get the digital assistant into more rooms and corners of your home, but has its own speaker so it can talk and play music.

The Google Home Mini will only cost US$ 49 and comes in three color options: chalk, charcoal, and coral. It’s now up for pre-order and will be available starting on October 19.

The Google Home Max, on the other hand, is a huge desk speaker that’ll compete with the Apple HomePod due to its size. It has two 4.5-inch woofers for deep bass and two tweeters for the high notes, which are all hidden behind a stylish fabric cover.

Of course, the Home Max has Google Assistant that’ll respond even when you’re playing music, thanks to the speaker’s far-field microphones. It has a feature called Smart Sound, which automatically tunes the speaker for the room size and to the audio you’re listening to — may it be a song, podcast, or phone call.

The Home Max features touch controls and supports Bluetooth and Google Cast for wireless music playback from any compatible device. It also has access to YouTube Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio for streaming. If you want to go wired, it still has a 3.5mm audio port.

The Google Home Max will retail for US$ 399 and is coming sometime in December. It’s actually fifty bucks more expensive than the HomePod, but Google will throw in a 12-month ad-free YouTube Music subscription with every purchase.

SEE ALSO: Amazon introduces Echo Spot: your next bedside smart clock

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India

Amazon to invest $1 billion in India’s small businesses

Jeff Bezos is convinced it’s time to double down

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Jeff Bezos is visiting India and Amazon has organized a conference to announce their plans and goals for the regional market. Dubbed “Smbhav”, it’s a collaborative event for small and medium businesses and will see the participation of senior industry executives.

Bezos said the global online retailer will invest US$ 1 billion in digitising India’s small and medium businesses. He also said the company is eyeing scaling locally produced products from India — in line with the Make in India program — to be of US$ 10 billion size on Amazon platform by 2025.

“We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it,” Bezos said.

The news comes just after the Competition Commission of India (CCI), started an investigation into anti-competitive practices of Amazon and its Walmart-owned rival Flipkart earlier this week.

An Amazon executive said the company has amassed over 500,000 sellers in India and thousands of merchants in the country who are selling on 12 Amazon marketplaces around the world.

India is a lucrative market for internet companies because of extremely cheap data rates and easy availability of affordable smartphones. With a population of 1.3 billion people, the potential is unmatchable. Especially because China’s markets are closed by an internal firewall and the developed markets are highly saturated.

The country is Amazon’s largest bet outside its home market and currently at the cutting edge of digital payments. In India, Amazon is able to set up a highly scaled operations unit, ensuring lower costs and better reach.

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India

POCO is now officially an independent brand

No longer affiliated with Xiaomi

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Xiaomi has announced it’s spinning off POCO as an independent brand. This means the brand will now operate on its own. POCO started in 2018 as a sub-brand of Xiaomi and the parent company has decided to bring in structural changes.

POCO branding is active in India while all other markets get Pocophone. The brand is famous for its POCO F1, an affordable phone that packs a flagship-grade processor. The phone’s arrival created a completely new category of smartphones that are built to be inexpensive, yet offer unmatchable speed.

However, POCO took the backseat in 2019 while Xiaomi rained the markets with Redmi branded phones. Fans have been asking about POCO F1’s successor ever since and the parent company consistently stayed silent about the sub-brand’s future.

Rival brand Realme was also formed as an independent company but is able to leverage OPPO’s infrastructure as “partners”. Having complete independence, the company can operate on its own and decide its own strategy. This structural divide let Realme form a new identity and within no time, it reckoned with Xiaomi as India’s leading mobile vendor.

There were reports in the second half of 2019 that suggested Xiaomi might ditch the POCO brand completely. It’s safe to say that isn’t happening anymore. POCO’s social media handles have been actively announcing discounts and deals on the POCO F1, suggesting a new product could be on the way soon.

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Hisense partners with NBA icon Dwyane Wade

It’s a multi-year deal

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Image: Dario | GadgetMatch

Hisense has been one of the fast rising brands especially in the television department. The company is now partnering with three-time NBA Champion Dwyane Wade to attract the sports-consuming market.

Wade will serve the as the company’s US Ambassador and will be prominently featured in premium product launches, in-person event appearances, and other upcoming marketing campaigns. He will be joining Hisense’s list of sports partners that include NASCAR, FIFA (2018) and UEFA (2016 and 2020).

The retired NBA star says he sees the company’s dedication to producing quality products and he’s excited for the partnership.

Hisense offers several value-for-money products especially with televisions. In CES 2020, the company launched the L5 laser TV and XD9G — the first dual-cell technology TV on the market. They also offer various other products like home appliances including refrigerators, wine coolers, portable air conditioners, and more

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