Cortana Could Edge Out Siri, Google Now

Microsoft later this year will offer its Cortana personal assistant as a standalone app for iOS and Android devices. The engine behind Cortana is "arguably better than [Siri or Google Now] simply because it's far more mature and comprehensive," said tech analyst Rob Enderle. The Cortana personal assistant evolved from the AI character Cortana in the Halo video game series.

Microsoft later this year will offer its Cortana personal assistant as a standalone app for iOS and Android devices, Reuters reported on Friday.

The Cortana personal assistant evolved from the AI character Cortana in the Halo video game series.

The company is working on a version of Cortana that will incorporate artificial intelligence advances developed in a research project named “Einstein,” according to Reuters.

“Google makes money not off Android but on the ad revenue connected mostly to search, and Cortana is basically a smart search program,” noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“So, if Microsoft can get Android to use Microsoft’s Bing search, it could take another good chunk of Android’s revenue,” he told the E-Commerce Times. Microsoft already gets “a substantial amount” of licensing revenue from Android over IP rights.

No Johnny-Come-Lately

Microsoft has been working on the engine behind Cortana “for decades, and it’s arguably better than [Siri or Google Now] simply because it’s far more mature and comprehensive,” Enderle said.

Siri and Google Now “are clever speech-to-text search engine interfaces, but neither of them is particularly smart,” Enderle explained. Cortana “was designed out of the digital assistant work that goes back to the early 90s and potentially has far more potential — some of which hasn’t been released yet.”

A Microsoft Coup?

Cortana needs to be properly marketed if it’s to succeed on iOS and Android, Enderle cautioned.

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” said David MacQueen, executive director of apps and media at Strategic Analytics.

“Given that iOS and Android both have voice search already, it seems like a natural move for Microsoft to me,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Recall that Microsoft gave free access to Office apps on iOS and Android last year, MacQueen pointed out.

That was “part hedging bets against the Windows OS failing to gain further traction to mobile, and part growing Microsoft as a key mobile player no matter what the platform, as [CEO] Satya Nadella has laid out,” he explained.

Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right

For Microsoft, mobility goes beyond devices to include productivity experiences — and Microsoft wants to put multiple applications on every home screen, Nadella said during the company’s Q4 earnings call.

Productivity experiences will go beyond individual applications to deliver ambient intelligence that spans applications, he pointed out, noting that was why Microsoft introduced Cortana in Windows 8.1.

Microsoft “has long been working to get shared code running in their applications across platforms, even outside of Windows,” Directions on Microsoft analyst Wes Miller told the E-Commerce Times in an earlier conversation.

“Realistically, we’re talking about Microsoft platforms; Apple platforms — iOS and OS X; Android, including, apparently, some Amazon devices; and some applications in major Web browsers,” he noted.

Will Apple and Google Play With Cortana?

Although Apple and Google also are vying for dominance in the personal assistant arena, they likely will allow users to install the Cortana app on their devices.

“Microsoft … is not afraid of a little litigation, and blocking their app would raise questions about antitrust and unfair competition,” Enderle said.

Microsoft might siphon off some ad revenue connected to search and get people to consider it as an alternative in the mobile world if people were to opt for Cortana on iOS or Android, Enderle suggested.

That said, “Windows users who like Cortana could also find it easier to move to iOS and Android, as more and more key Microsoft apps run on them.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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