Goodbye Cortana, Microsoft prefers Alexa and Google Assistant

Microsoft gives up the competition: Cortana will become an application that can be installed inside Amazon Echo and Google Home

In some cases, cooperating is better than competing. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella must have well understood this: the number one of the Redmond company, in an interview with Business Insider, admitted that Cortana is not able to compete with Alexa and Google Assistant. Microsoft raises the white flag and decides to ally with the two big "enemies": Amazon and Google.

The company's strategy will be to work with competitors to incorporate Cortana into existing devices: it will no longer be considered a rival to Alexa and Google Assistant, but will work alongside them. A bit like what has already been done for the Redmond company's other apps: Cortana will be available as an extra feature that can be installed on Amazon Echo or Google Home. Microsoft's voice assistant could be used as a bridgehead for Windows PCs to communicate with smart home hubs. We'll see what happens in the future.

Cortana and voice assistants: what changes

The relationship of Cortana with other voice assistants will change decisively with the goal that Microsoft's voice assistant will become an app that can be used over Google Assistant and Alexa.

According to the company, it wouldn't have made sense to compete in a context where its own product was limited to doing what its opponents could already do: although Microsoft had considered entering the smart speaker sector, after due analysis, it was decided to stay out of it since they would be photocopy products of those already existing.

In fact, while it's true that Cortana is available on many devices, including hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs and tens of millions of Xbox consoles, it turns out to be lagging behind other voice assistants. Google, for example, revealed that Google Assistant will be on 1 billion devices by the end of this month. Alexa, on the other hand, supports 28,000 smart devices made by more than 4,500 companies. These are the numbers that convinced Microsoft: better to pursue a close collaboration with Amazon, concretized in the  Alexa-Cortana integration, rather than conducting an unequal fight. The reference to Google, however, is surprising: unlike Amazon, no integration plans between Microsoft and Google had ever been contemplated.

Down to 2020: voice products as business drivers

By 2020, voice-based products will be poised to contribute significantly to business growth. As much as 50% of searches will be via voice commands, and strategy consultants at OC & C predict that sales via voice searches could hit 40 billion in the U.S. alone within the next three years, coinciding with a 42% increase from 2017 to 2022 in the number of households owning a smart speaker. Integrating with the giants, rather than challenging them, could definitely be the right choice for Microsoft.