Alexa befriends Cortana to fight against Google Assistant, Siri

Amazon has partnered with Microsoft to blend Alexa with Cortana strategically to compete against Google Assistant and Apple's Siri.


Disrupting the nascent space of voice-powered digital assistants, Amazon and Microsoft have announced their partnership. The latest deal between the two tech giants is designed to let Alexa and Cortana communicate with each other and ultimately make things difficult for Google Assistant and Apple's Siri.

If you own an Amazon Echo speaker and want to interact with Microsoft's Cortana, you will now just need to say, "Alexa, open Cortana." Similarly, directly from your Windows 10 device, you will now be able to access Amazon's Alexa by saying, "Cortana, open Alexa." This is all the magic of the new tie-up between Amazon and Microsoft.

Amazon believes that by adding Cortana's support, its Alexa, which is dominating the market of smart speakers, will allow users to book a meeting, access their work calendars, set reminders or even read an email right by using their voice. Cortana, on the other hand, will leverage the over 20,000 skills of Alexa to grow its presence in the personal computing space. Notably, one big advantage that surfaces from the fresh friendship between Alexa and Cortana -- but is hidden in the background -- is the expansion of digital assistance on Windows 10 systems as they'll now interact with both Alexa and Cortana.

"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, in a joint statement. "Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal."

Also read: Microsoft's Cortana uplifts Skype to take on Google Allo

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos even sees the cross-integration as a complementary step that will bring a "richer and even more helpful experience" to both Echo and Windows users. "There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialised skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience," stated Bezos.

Ripple effect

While teams at Amazon and Microsoft are set to completely blend the experiences later this year, the market is likely to receive its ripple effect very soon. The partnership is expected to persuade developers to build new experiences for the duo. Additionally, it would encourage more users to start talking with their devices. The latter is so far quite rare in developing markets like India and China.

Competitive approach against Google and Apple

Having said that, the primary motive behind the Amazon-Microsoft partnership is to take on Google Assistant and Siri. Apple and Google lately entered the world of smart speakers. That move made the competition tougher for Amazon that debuted on the same front in November 2014 with its Echo speaker range. Likewise, Google Assistant and Siri brought several challenges for the early Cortana model which all are appeared to be resolved through the new progress.

Importantly, Microsoft doesn't have a native hardware to showcase the capabilities of it Cortana assistant. The Redmond company, at present, only have some partnerships with manufacturers such as Harman Kardon and Hewlett-Packard. Therefore, Amazon's Echo speaker family has also become a new formal home for the Windows maker. The Echo devices are already competing against Google Assistant-backed Google Home and Siri-based Apple HomePod.

Market research firm eMarketer predicts Amazon will continue to lead the smart speaker market with 71 percent of the share by the end of this year, while Google will come at second with a market share of 24 percent. Companies like Facebook and Samsung are also expected to join the arena with their native contenders later this year. Such waves would not largely affect Amazon and Microsoft as both will jointly face the competition.