If Microsoft want to win AI, give devices for free and more


Finally HarmonKardon’s  Cortana powered AI speaker goes on sale today.  It is $199 premium quality speaker.  But  do you think it can withstand with Amazon Alexa powered Echo speakers and numerous third party systems. Also Google AI powered speakers. I think no.


  • Alexa have thousands of skills integrated, that make alexa powered devices a better choice
  • Besides the first party echo devices, many more third party devices are powered by Alexa. That create a lot of choice unlike HarmonKardon Invoke.
  • Cortana is not even available at all market and Invoke is only available in US.

My judgement is even worse,

  • I don’t even think it can compete with not just Amazon Alexa, but also with Google echo and Apple’s upcoming AI speakers. Because Google have significant presence in IoT and AI. Also they own Today’s computing platform (ie. Mobile). So they can step to tomorrow. Same is the case for Apple. But Microsoft have presence only on Yesterday’s computing platform (ie .PC).

How to become aggressive?

I am not a right person to advice a company like Microsoft with huge talent and resources. In fact Microsoft itself may employs hundreds of self made techno entrepreneurs.  But I believe the only option left here is to become more aggressive than rivals without the fear of what stock market will think. Something Amazon and Salesforce always do.

  • How about building a first party entry level device and giving away million of such device for $0? Amazon sells entry level device for $50, if we consider same price it will cost $50 million. Not a big deal for Microsoft . Microsoft already written off $7 billion + in Nokia deal and lot more investments in mobile space. Anyway it will be far better than investing billions in a late unrecoverable stage.
  • The big advantage of the above trick is it will resolve the chicken egg problem. That means as there is no skills (or apps) devices are not being sold. And as there is not enough  devices  app makers (skill makers) doesn’t develop skills for the platform. Microsoft faced this problem in mobile very badly.
  • Bring the echo system to Office.  How about replacing the Meeting room Systems with AI devices. It make sense and a lot of potential is available in business space. Marketing in  that direction will be a good choice.

Anyway doing something is better than doing nothing (which any can do). Let’s wait and see.


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