Microsoft is in a very peculiar position as the company finds itself behind in the smart speaker market. A lack of foresight is one of the main reasons why Microsoft’s Cortana is playing catch up since it was, at one point, ahead of the current leaders.
In a bid to regain much of what it has lost in the consumer A.I. space, Microsoft has decided to partner with the Chinese company, Xiaomi, to work on several A.I. products and software.
Here’s the thing, the software giant has agreed to allow Xiaomi to use its cloud services to create products for the international market.
Cortana Could Finally Get a Big Break
Now, the giant from Redmond did not go into details, but it did state that one of the first products to come from Xiaomi will likely be a Cortana-powered Mi AI speaker. For those who might be unaware of what’s going on, the Mi AI speaker is a budget smart speaker from Xiaomi that is even cheaper than the Amazon Echo Dot.
This is good news for Microsoft because the only Cortana-powered speaker on the market today, is the Harmon Kardon Invoke, and it’s too expensive to compete with Amazon and Google.
At the moment, the Invoke is being sold for $150, while the Mi AI Speaker costs about a third of that value. The big downside here is the fact that the Mi AI Speaker is only available in China, but with this partnership and the availability of Cortana, Xiaomi will finally make a move to enter western markets in a big way.
“Microsoft has been a great partner and we are delighted to see both companies deepening this relationship with this strategic MoU. Xiaomi’s mission is to deliver innovation to everyone around the world. By collaborating with Microsoft on multiple technology areas, Xiaomi will accelerate our pace to bring more exciting products and services to our users. At the same time, this partnership would allow Microsoft to reach more users around the world who are using Xiaomi products,” according to Wang Xiang, Global Senior Vice President and Head of International Business, Xiaomi.
Cortana is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Both companies are working on other avenues where Xiaomi would integrate Microsoft services such as Bing, Edge, Skype, and improved A.I. features into several products in the near future.
The depth of these plans has not been revealed, but it’s easy to conclude that Xiaomi’s Android smartphones and Windows-powered laptops would benefit quite a lot with Microsoft services at the helm.
A deal like this should help Xiaomi with its quest to break into western markets to better compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple. For Microsoft, the company could use Xiaomi to gain a bigger foothold in China, giving it access to nearly two billion citizens.