According tomedia reports, Cortana is almost a minor player in the competition for digital assistants, and Microsoft is well aware that it cannot compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. That’s why Microsoft now sees Cortana more as an assistant application that can be integrated into Microsoft productivity applications such as Outlook or Microsoft Teams.
Because Microsoft can’t show off its new Cortana developer integration or Cortana-backed devices to the outside world, the company rarely talks about it in public, but Cortana Vice President Andrew Shuman last week at Petri.com. MJFChat had an in-depth conversation with veteran journalist Mary Jo Foley about the voice assistant.
First, Shuman made it clear that Cortana would continue to deliver maximum value to Office 365 users, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft will completely ignore consumers. “We believe there will be a lot of help in this world, and of course there are things like online shopping, and Microsoft won’t be involved, but we want to be a really good partner and do it with other assistants.” But we do think that really focusing our efforts on the users who really manage their time, their communications, the documents and projects they work for at Microsoft is a place where we can add the most value to those users. “
Microsoft and Amazon are understood to have partnered, a relationship that allows Cortana and Alexa to talk to each other and open the door to more interoperability between digital assistants. But Shuman also realized that the integration wasn’t completely seamless, and Microsoft and Amazon are clearly trying to change that.
Shuman also spoke about Microsoft’s controversial decision to remove Cortana apps for iOS and Android in non-U.S. markets. To put it short, Microsoft doesn’t want U.S. consumers to stop configuring their Surface headsets or Harman Caton Invoke speakers (sold only in the U.S.). And Shuman believes Cortana will only be more useful in Microsoft’s own applications.
Finally, Shuman talks about Cortana’s poor support for the non-English-speaking market. For many Cortana users, the lack of support for international markets may be the reason why the digital assistant can’t really fight Alexa and Google Aisstant, and unfortunately, that doesn’t seem like a big change in the near future. “So we will continue to support the Windows market for the coming year.” We do want to think about how many things we learned in the U.S. market can get into the global market, but we also, and I want to get you back to a more modest and manageable state. We have a lot to learn, a lot of things to think about with our users, to make sure the user experience is great, and we want to start experiencing it in the United States, especially on mobile devices. “