Mobile Geeks

Is Automotive Microsoft’s Long Term Strategy for Cortana?

CES 2018 was the war of digital assistants. Alexa made it clear in 2017 that she was going anywhere and in 2018 Google painted Las Vegas with its intentions to take her down. But what about Cortana?

Larry Dignan over on ZDNet proclaimed that CES 2018 was Cortana’s funeral, which got me thinking, is it really over for Cortana?

It’s easy to see how it comes to this sad conclusion, Microsoft is wavering on Cortana and Dynamics 365 which means smart speakers aren’t going to happen anytime soon. Pair that with the fact that Cortana only has 230 skills compared to Alexa’s 25,000 make her future seem dim.

If you only paid attention to news about Cortana you might have missed Microsoft’s strategy for dominance in the world where digital assistants are becoming pervasive. Microsoft is all about Azure and the cloud and not really focused on Cortana.

Cortana wasn’t absent from CES, though you really had to look, she showed up in a smart mirror, a thermostat, Ecobee, Geeni, Honeywell Lyric, IFTTT, LIFX, TP-Link Kasa and Honeywell Total Connect Comfort. Chipmakers, Allwinner, Synaptics, TONLY and Qualcomm all have IoT reference designs which support her.

What is Microsoft Doing in Automotive?

Microsoft has come out with a Connected vehicle platform and has its sights set on having an open IoT platform for automotive. ZF and Microsoft announced a partnership based on Microsoft’s Azure.

A platform powered by Azure, includes services such as Azure ML, Microsoft Cognitive Services, Cortana Intelligence Suite takes advantage of the abundant compute and storage resources exposed by the underlying infrastructure.

Microsoft is also expanding its portfolio to enterprise IoT that delivers predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, and asset tracking solutions. Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform is not a finished product that automobile companies can buy. It is a framework that brings multiple technologies together to deliver the latest in consumer experiences.

If you’re looking to follow the progress of the Microsoft Connected Vehicle platform, keep an eye on BMW and Renault-Nissan Alliance. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s CEO, mentioned in his CES keynote that they’re continuing their partnership with Microsoft to build the next generation of connected car technologies. Nissan and Microsoft have been working on connected car experiences since 2015.

What about Cortana?

Where Cortana comes into all of this is it’ll be possible for Car manufacturers can integrate her into In-car infotainment systems.

It’s a long shot that the underlying infrastructure will mean that Cortana will actually appear in any cars. Right now automotive manufacturers are trying to maintain ownership of the cockpit experience. If she does show up, my money is we won’t even know she’s there, she’ll be rebranded as the cars own digital assistant.

In the digital assistant war, Cortana just can’t compete with established consumer-facing ecosystems that Google has with Android and their massive amounts of data or Alexa with her aggressive entry into the home last year. It really makes you wonder why no one is talking to Cortana on all the Windows 10 devices out there, especially because within the last 3 or 4 months she never disappoints.