Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is clearly trailing in the smart speaker wars yet it is not failing to make subsequent strides in that realm. The Redmond giant is teaming up with ODM Quanta to create its own Cortana smart speaker, reports German website Winfuture.de. The device is in an early stage of development and will be powered by Snapdragon 212 SoC.
A smart speaker’s performance heavily relies on the smartness of its AI-based voice assistant. Apple has learned this the hard way with its HomePod. Microsoft’s Cortana remains absolutely anonymous in the space where players like Amazon and Google continue to play hardball with Alexa and Google Assistant, respectively.
As per the study on the response of different smart speakers by LoupVentures, Microsoft’s Cortana did manage to outsmart Siri in intelligence but lagged behind Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Apple and Amazon have been taking significant measures to make a genius out of their AI assistants. Google Assistants won’t even break a sweat given its future capabilities, showcased in the latest I/O developer conference, are nothing short of flawless. Cortana has a lot of evolving to do.
Last year, Microsoft debuted in the field with Cortana-powered Harmon Kardon Invoke, but it garnered almost zero market share and failed miserably. Even a 50% price cut in Invoke couldn’t help the falling sales, come to think of it, Microsoft wasn’t really competing in the smart speaker market.
The development reflects that Microsoft was clearly feeling left out in the smart speakers’ arena, yet despite recent setbacks, the company has not given up the market of smart speakers. The AI arena can be a bloodbath for Microsoft due to the fierce competition between Amazon and Google. Amazon’s marketing tactics for the Echo gave it a good headstart and its success was a lesson on the virtue of being first. Google Home, on the other hand, has exceptional AI smarts solely to the astounding capabilities of the Google Assistant.
As of 2017, Alexa controlled a huge 62% worldwide market share among digital assistants, while Google Assistant recorded impressive growth and captured a market share of 25%. Microsoft’s Cortana came in ‘others’ (13%), individually it might negligible.
Microsoft fans would like to see Cortana on a platform other than Windows 10. With the AI- assistant being deployed once again by Microsoft, it would be exciting to see what all new features can come along with the smart speaker and can it avoid winding up like Invoke. Harmon Kardon, owned by Samsung Electronics, is actually a good audio equipment maker. So we do know that the problem was not exactly with the speaker but with the AI.
Microsoft and Taiwanese ODM Quanta have of course embarked on this road, but Microsoft has to step-up its AI game to make Cortana at least survival for a while in the aggressive market. Maybe just because Microsoft was wise enough to think that fighting a lost battle is pointless, that it demonstrated the Alexa-Cortana integration in its Build 2018 conference. Microsoft doesn’t want Cortana to end up like Windows Mobile.