Two of the most important language assistants are Alexa and Cortana. A smart train from Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella. But the cooperation will not be enough to conquer the market.

The biggest merger on the voice assistants market is still a bit cumbersome. Who wants to order with his Microsoft assistant Cortana, for example, Klopapier, must first refer to Alexa: “Cortana, open Alexa.” Only then can the order give up.

Nevertheless, Microsoft and Amazon have met with their unusual cooperation the Zeitgeist. On Wednesday, they announced that their voices will be complementary in the future. Cortana users should be able to access the shopping features of Alexa and Alexa users to the Microsoft Office help from Cortana. The two tech-sizes show that they have understood their market: it is not about who is the first to conquer the segment of language support. Instead, it is to bring the customer to the market – and to offer him an all-encompassing product.

Cortana can shop, get Alexa mails

How exactly the integration works, there are so far only conjectures. It is obvious that the two companies have created a so-called skill for the other language assistant. With this extension , external providers can offer their services via Alexa or Cortana. The user can read the messages from Spiegel Online or play Jeopardy. In the future, Cortana will also shop at Amazon and Alexa will be able to retrieve the Outlook mails.

This is an important step in the establishment of digital assistants: the better the devices are, the more benefits they have for the customer. It still takes the cumbersome reference to the other language assistant. But Amazon’s chief Jeff Bezos has already announced in the New York Times that it will also be possible at any time without the title of the right language assistants to open. It is a real relief for the customer, who had little to do so far when Alexa was on the table and he wanted to retrieve his mails. That Bezos and Satya Nadella have joined together to get to this point more quickly, speaks for their far-sightedness.

Alexa is also installed on Amazon Echo. The language assistant now cooperates with Microsoft’s Cortana. (Picture: Amazon)

Nice side effect: They put their biggest competitors Apple and Google under pressure. Because the market has so far divided into four language assistants: Amazons Alexa , Apple’s Siri , Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Everyone fought for themselves, everyone wanted to convince the customer of his product. This is different now. With the alliance Apple and Google are under pressure. Bezos says that he is open to further integrations. After all, it is about giving customers access to as many assistants as possible, he says. But this should not be desirable for the other two groups.

Are Cortana and Alexa joining Siri and Google Assistant?

Both cultivate their own ecosystem. Apple has created an almost sect-like universe, which seldom leaves customers – also because it makes a lot of work from an Apple device to a non-Apple device. Siri is there accordingly only with iOS and in the homepod. This lockin effect is an elementary part of company culture. Google, on the other hand, has built the most successful operating system for smartphones, collecting daily unimaginable data points from its users. This raises the question how much a cooperation with Amazon and Microsoft would really bring the group from Mountain View.

Especially since Apple and Google still have a great advantage against the language assistants of Amazon and Microsoft: They are installed on millions of smartphones. This means they are always with the user, are integrated into the everyday life of the people. Although there are Cortana also for Android and also on some Homespeakern. Alexa has worked up in refrigerators , TV and even iOS . But also the user Cortana and Alexa usually leave the front door. This means that the two assistants miss a part of the lives of their users.

A look at the figures shows why this is not to be underestimated: according to Statista currently 603 million smartphones with iOS system and 2.58 billion with Android system are in use. On the other hand, the “million” of echo sales and the 145 million active Cortana users look miserable. And just Google is trying diligently to bring his assistant into more devices.

And just because the two companies cooperate does not mean that they are no longer competing with each other. Finally, Microsoft plans a home assistant à la Echo. The cooperation between the corporations can therefore be assessed as one step, in order to become dangerous for the two smartphone stalks. But the marathon between the language assistants have not yet decided for themselves. 

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