Microsoft is going to release an Amazon Echo competitor next year and it is doing this by partnering with Harman Kardon (and audio company which will soon be owned by Samsung) to launch a speaker (like echo and Google Home) with Cortana as your personal assistant. In a blog post, Microsoft says Cortana Devices SDK will allow OEMs and ODMs to create a new generation of smart, personal devices – on no screen or the big screen, in homes and on wheels.
In the attached video which it describes as “a voice-activated speaker”, it shows a cylindrical object that looks like the Amazon Echo device and something close to the Google Home device although what’s in the video appears taller, it has a display on the top with that familiar blue circle which is an indicator for a thinking Cortana when you ask it just about anything.
Just as Google is making a much bigger push into the internet of things (IoT), Microsoft is also partnering with just about all equipment manufacturers or OEMs through its Cortana Devices SDK with the aim of powering those devise with Cortana. In Google’s Android Things, IoT devices can now leverage on some of Google’s big services like its Cloud platform and more importantly its AI (Google Assistant) platform.
As for when this new Cortana powered device will be available, we know it’s going to be in 2017 and as for further news on the subject, Microsoft says Harman Kardon will have more updates on this for us.
While Microsoft is about competing with Amazon and Google in this space, it currently looks like Microsoft would not be branding any devices any time soon for this purpose and that’s the differentiating factor. That’s not to say they won’t brand their own hardware in future but for now they choose to compete through partner devices.