There is no doubt at this point in anyone’s mind that Microsoft has lost the smart speaker market to the Amazon Echo. Microsoft, just like they lost the smartphone market to Apple a few years ago now has lost the battle with this consumer product. Microsoft went in an unique way with their AI technology putting everything into Cortana on the desktop and on app market for phones. Google who got out of the gate late with a smart speaker, the Google Home managed to grab market share using the popularity of their existing consumer products as a hook to buy their smart speaker.
Apple who recently released their smart speaker called the HomePod which to me is more of a competitor for something like Sono’s or Bose speaker system rather than Amazon’s Echo. Apple I think will be adopted due to Apples name recondition with consumer products and the music industry. I do think Apples smart speaker will appeal to a different market then the Amazon Echo or the Google Home.
Microsoft decided to let hardware venders build and design the Cortana smart speakers instead of doing the work themselves by taking the product internally like the Xbox or surface products. I think this is another huge mistake by Microsoft. I know Microsoft had a tough time in the consumer space over the last few years but to let hardware partners put out all different kinds of smart speakers based on the Cortana AI is a mistake and is destined to fail.
Not to praise Apple to much but their consumer ecosystem works so well for them because they own the hardware and the software. Look at the mess at times Android can be because of hardware manufactures having their way with it and the same goes for Windows computers at times. If Microsoft would have treated the Cortana speaker like an Xbox or Surface Laptop they would have been ok and maybe been able to grab a piece of the market.
HP who in recent months announced it’s Cortana speaker that will have to be connected to a computer to work has already received negative reviews. Online blogs are already saying the Cortana smart speaker platform is dead and it’s not even released yet. Harman Kardon who has shown some small demo videos of their speaker making the product look great saying the product will come with Office 365-degree sound, Skype to make calls, Cortana Assistant and integration with all major music services. The speaker is set to ship in the fall no pricing is know on the device yet at the time of this writing.
As great as the Cortana speaker sounds Microsoft is two years late getting to the game it remains to be seen what the speaker will do and if it will make Microsoft a competitor in the smart speaker space. I would like to point out that Cortana speaker by Harman Kardon is Linux powered not Windows based which a lot of tech people in the industry if finding amusing. I hate to say at this point I don’t think a Microsoft smart speaker is going to push them into the consumer space like they want but you really won’t know till the product launches.