Cortana product chief admits Microsoft was late to the smart speaker market

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Harman Kardon Invoke
Image Courtesy: PCMag.com

Digital assistants, in general, have changed a lot in the past
few years. They have gained a lot of new features which made
them capable of expanding themselves from smartphones to smart
speakers. Amazon Alexa powered Echo smart speakers are really
popular products in the market. Google Assistant powered smart
speakers are also popular. Realizing that there is an actual
market for smart speakers, Apple also launched their Home Pod
powered by Apple’s Siri of course. Microsoft, on the other
hand, didn’t make their own smart speaker and instead asked
Harmon Kardon to make a smart speaker powered by Cortana. But
Microsoft was already late to the party and Invoke speaker with
Cortana didn’t sell as they hoped it would.

Microsoft has admitted that they were late to the smart speaker
market. In an interview with ZDNet, Javier Soltero who is
the Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Cortana
confessed that the smart speaker market grew into a form which
Microsoft didn’t anticipate. “This new market around
ambient devices in the home has been “shaped differently when
we expected.” Microsoft realized the opportunities of this
market “but didn’t jump quickly on.”

But all hope is not lost as Soltero also said that Microsoft
has new and better plans for Cortana. Smart speakers with
Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and even Siri are meant to do a
specific task. For example, turn on the lights or book a ride
or anything like that. These speakers and digital assistants
are already pretty good at this. Also, they are already popular
among the people. So there is no need for Microsoft to come up
with a Cortana powered smart speaker to take on the likes of
Google Home or Amazon Echo or even Apple Home Pod. Instead,
what Microsoft plans to do is integrate Cortana into the
operating system or applications so that we will be able to do
our tasks faster and more efficiently.

People might always think of a digital assistant as an app or a
voice from a speaker but in reality what they want or what they
need is an actual help from the assistant. The “assistance from
the assistant” is exactly what Microsoft aims to do with
Cortana. IN near future, Microsoft will be weaving Cortana into
the entire Windows 10 operating system.

This doesn’t mean that Cortana will stop being the digital
assistant that it is. Microsoft wants Cortana to be consistent
and logical. But what people really need is the assistance that
Cortana can offer and Microsoft believes that concentrating on
one of these will eventually lead to success.

Microsoft might have been late to the smart speaker market but
it doesn’t matter as long as the company follows this new
roadmap for Cortana. For doing specific tasks, the users can
use Alexa. Microsoft is totally okay with it.

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa already have a headstart so
Microsoft has to act fast. Cortana should expand to more
platforms and should have a better cross-platform service in
order to provide the best experience for the users.



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