French telecommunications giant Orange has tacitly declared the Djingo Speaker a commercial failure, just shy of a year after the smart speaker debuted. Instead, Orange will focus on upping the presence of its Djingo voice assistant in smart TVs and smart home devices, leaving Amazon and Google as victors competing against each other in France.

Djingo Silence

The Djingo Speaker, developed by Orange and Deutsche Telekom, arrived last November after missing an expected Spring 2019 debut. Originally pitched as a French competitor for Amazon and Google, the smart speaker came on the market two years after the American companies began selling their own line in France. Orange ended up partnering with Amazon and including Alexa as a voice assistant option for the speaker. By the time it went on sale, the Djingo Speaker had already fallen behind its rivals when it came to hardware for the smart speaker, yet it cost $110 when launched, twice what Orange said it would cost a year before. The smart speaker is still available but now costs about $175. The only thing that made the Djingo speaker stand out as a better choice was the “privileged interface” for Orange’s services, including controlling Orange TVs by voice. As approximately 1.5 million households have an Orange set-top box, that’s no small thing. Notably, the voice-controlled television remote for Orange set-top boxes that came out at the same time as the smart speaker apparently performed well enough that Orange would rather drill down in that area, along with what it calls “Connected Home” services.

“The chapter of the standalone Djingo speaker comes today to an end and this is of course a very special moment for the project and the team. This device is a true technology piece of art; yet no matter how brilliant a product can be, the last word should be left to the market and the market said it expects something different from Orange,” Orange progam director François Lefèvre wrote in a LinkedIn post about the decision. “We as a Group have accumulated an incredible amount of #conversationalAI competences and skills throughout the building phase of the speaker which we are now spreading across all the other initiatives leveraging #naturallanguage interfaces within Orange. One of the most emblematic device[s] benefitting from this experience is our vocal TV remote control deployed into millions of houses in France and already contributing to a true and long term shift in the way we interact with digital services. Voice-based UX revolution goes on!”

  

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