Did you hear about the high tech marriage between Amazon and Microsoft? Well, actually, it was a marriage of the offspring, Alexa and Cortana, but you can be forgiven for missing the news release because talking assistants are not talking as much as members of the technorati elite politburo think they are.
Seriously? You know who Alexa is, right? It’s Amazon’s talking assistant available in the Echo speakers and in the Alexa applications and in a growing number of home Internet of Things devices. Microsoft’s Cortana? Not so much.
Well, here’s what happened. Microsoft took Cortana down the aisle to marry Amazon’s Alexa. You know– marriage. Integration. Work together in various devices. So, the talking speaker wars have reached such a state that some of the players are taking sides.
Tom Warren has an interesting outline on the whole marriage thing:
The integration is rather basic right now and requires users to summon each digital assistant through a rather clunky process. “Alexa, open Cortana” will launch Cortana on an Echo device, and “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” will do the same on Windows 10 PCs
Think about that for a moment. “Hey, Siri. Open Alexa and tell Alexa to Open Cortana and tell Cortana to Open Siri.” That could be fun, but Siri isn’t integrated with any of the other talking speakers. Hey, without a speaker, using just an app, wouldn’t Cortana and Alexa be talking headless? Just asking.
The idea itself sounds promising if only there was much promise in so-called talking speakers like Echo. Remember, Apple Watch sells more than Amazon sells Echo devices, usually for two to three times as much money (and profit), and the aforementioned technorati elite politburo members who write for digital technology rags declared it a failure, while Echo is a raging success.
Go figure, right?
I know enough about humankind to know that owners of these devices that talk to us and one another that as soon as they become more verbally proficient we are going to have some fun having them talk to each other.
One interesting thing to note about all these talking artificial intelligent digital creatures is this. Apple’s Siri is the most used, and most popular, and most well known. There are over 1-billion iPhones, iPads, and Macs which can run Siri but just a few dozen million Echo speakers with Alexa inside.
The marriage of Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa is an interesting relationship but it seems more like a marriage of pre-school AI children than anything else.