Just about a week ago the internet was on fire with talk of Microsoft developing a Windows software update called HomeHub, now it’s been announced that Microsoft will partner with Harmon Kardon to develop an Amazon Echo competitor.
All that has been released to this point is the teaser video (below) and a projected release date of 2017. It’s expected that the final design will be a cylinder, similar to the Echo, with some form of blue LED on top to show when Cortana is listening or speaking. I’m not a copyright attorney, so I don’t know at what point this infringes on Amazon’s design. Of course this may just be an artist’s rendering, we just don’t know.
Microsoft recently released a Cortana Skills Kit and Cortana SDK which will allow developers to embed Cortana in different devices. It’s possible that we could see Cortana in multiple Echo competitors as time goes by.
Despite Cortana being on all Windows 10 machines, Microsoft will still have an uphill battle as they try to come to market with an always listening virtual assistant. Amazon is the current king of the hill with the Echo, and although Google has challenged them with Google Home, they still have a lot of ground to cover before they can even reach parity with the Echo. By the time the Harmon Kardon speaker with Cortana is released, Amazon could be on to their rumored second generation Echo, with a whole new set of features. Both Google and Microsoft are going to be trying to catch up to a moving target for a while, and Amazon doesn’t seem interested in letting them catch up.
Check out the video and let me know what you think in the comments.