What it is: Microsoft made an agreement with Amazon to allow Cortana and Alexa to work together, but it’s in Alexa’s favor.
The world of voice-activated assistants is going to consolidate soon. Siri started the trend and Google responded with Google Assistant. Microsoft responded with Cortana and Amazon responded with Alexa. While Siri dominates on iOS and macOS and Google Assistant dominates on Android, Alexa is taking over the home speaker market while Microsoft is pushing Cortana on Windows PCs.
The problem is that PC manufacturers are starting to include Alexa on their computers. If this trend continues, then Alexa could take over the PC market and push Cortana out. After all, without Windows PCs, where else can Cortana dominate other than in the Xbox market?
Both Siri and Google Assistant live on mobile computers along with wearable computers. Siri also lives on the Macintosh so although Siri isn’t the clear leader any more, it’s still got enough of a presence to survive. The world doesn’t need so many voice-activated assistants (Samsung’s Bixby has an even more dismal uphill climb than Cortana), which means some will likely fall by the wayside and the first one to fall looks like Cortana.
The biggest strength of Siri is its dominance on Apple products and its multi-language capabilities, which far surpasses any other voice assistant. The biggest strength of Alexa is its dominance on inexpensive home speakers, but Alexa lacks a mobile and wearable computer platform. Google Assistant will be around on mobile and wearable devices, but has no home on any computer.
So expect voice assistants to keep getting smarter in different ways. Siri will continue to be the multi-language leader while Google Assistant and Alexa will likely be better at answering questions. Alexa and Cortana are in the weakest position. Cortana can’t migrate to the home speaker market but Alexa can migrate to the Windows PC market. The market will likely divide itself between Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
The fact that Cortana is in a weak position compared to its rivals simply reflects the much diminished influence Microsoft now exerts over the computer industry. In the old days, anything Microsoft did was enough to disrupt markets. Now Microsoft can create something as good as Cortana and the rest of the world barely notices.
Microsoft won’t go anywhere but they’ll never regain their former dominance. The future isn’t Microsoft but Apple, Google, and Amazon. In the future, expect these three companies to dominate in everything from smart homes to self-driving cars. Perhaps a new company may one day take over these one of these three companies eventually, but until that day comes, don’t expect anyone else to challenge these three companies any time soon, and that includes Microsoft.