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Quit Mobile: how does Microsoft "kill" Cortana step by step?

via:CnBeta     time:2019/12/30 22:33:29     readed:830

Thanks for sun Yongjie's delivery

Recently, in an interview with venture beat, Microsoft's Cortana Vice President Andrew Shuman confirmed that the Cortana applications on IOS and Android will exit all international markets outside the United States. Microsoft has previously announced that the application is only supported in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom. As soon as the news came out, it immediately caused a dispute about whether Microsoft "lost" in the competition of intelligent voice market. What are the facts?

Unbearable weight

When it comes to "failure", let's take a look at the original intention of Microsoft Cortana.

Cortana was officially launched at the build conference in April 2014. Microsoft has said Cortana is a key part of its plans to revolutionize windows's future operating system. At that time, Lu Qi, executive vice president of Microsoft in charge of Cortana, Bing and other businesses, also placed high hopes on Cortana, hoping that it would reach as many as 2.5 billion intelligent device users in the world in the next two to three years.

Not to mention whether a smartphone is the most appropriate device for voice, the smartphone itself alone was when Microsoft, even if it had acquired Nokia's cellphone business, fell far behind Google's Android and Android, which also have voice assistants AppleiOS.

What's more, since then, Windows Phone's market share has been declining, and as of the fourth quarter of 2016, its market share in smart phones was only 0.3%. The reason why we set the node in 2016 is that Microsoft seems to have realized the trend of Windows Phone, and released the first intelligent speaker invoke with Cortana in 2017. At this time, it has been three years since the launch of Amazon's smart speaker echo series with Alex voice assistant.

About four and a half years later, Lucci, who had left Microsoft, once again expressed his opinion on Cortana, saying that at that time Amazon was far behind in the field of technology. From a technical point of view, Google and Microsoft were far ahead of Amazon. However, looking at the current AI competition, Amazon's Alexa ecosystem is far ahead of other U.S. companies because they have found the right use scenario and launched the right device. Mr. Lu also believes that Microsoft and Google have made the same mistake of focusing on voice assistants on mobile phones and PCs rather than developing specialized new devices.

We don't know if this is Microsoft's "afterknowledge". But judging from the fact that Amazon had not yet launched the echo series smart speakers with Alex voice assistant at that time, Microsoft did make a mistake in looking forward to the smart phone as Cortana's platform.

According to a new survey released recently by SUMO heavy, the usage rate of voice assistant on smart phones is lower than previously expected. Sumo heavy's survey of more than 1000 American adults found that nearly half (46%) of the respondents never use voice assistant, while another group (19%) said they rarely use voice assistant. These two groups accounted for 65% of the survey audience, while 29% of the respondents said they use voice assistant every week or every month. They are active user groups.

Note that this is the survey result after Amazon released the echo series of smart speakers five years ago, which has greatly popularized voice assistant in the market. Then, five years ago, based on the technology of voice assistant and people's cognition, the difficulty of using smart phones as a platform for promoting voice assistant was obvious. Moreover, Microsoft's market share in smart phones at that time was far lower than that of apple and Google. Can Microsoft turn a blind eye to this? The only explanation left is that Microsoft overestimated its competitiveness in the smartphone market after it acquired the NOKIA mobile phone business.

Ignore EchoAnd Google homeSpeculation iOSAnd Androidplatform

In fact, Microsoft's Cortana still has a chance when it's pressing the wrong treasure. Because only seven months after Microsoft released Cortana, Amazon, which does not have a mobile platform as the support, released the echo series smart speaker, which was officially released in June 2015. According to CIRP data, in 2015 alone, echo's shipment volume reached 2.5 million units; in 2016, the sales volume doubled again, and the annual sales volume surged to 5.2 million units.

Also in 2016, Google chose to follow up and released the smart speaker Google home.

So when Amazon echo sales soared and Google followed up, Microsoft didn't follow up in time. Under NADELLA's strategy of giving up windows first, in December 2015, Cortana landed on IOS and android as an independent app. Although Microsoft CEO NADELLA explained that Cortana's positioning is "the world's first cross platform intelligent personal assistant", so we should take it to as many platforms as possible.

At this point, although Nadella's ideal for Cortana positioning is very full, it ignores the simple fact that peers are friends.

First of all, apple and Google on IOS and Android have their own pre installed voice assistant, and Google assistant, the largest voice assistant in smartphone market share, has the technical essentials ahead of Cortana at that time. So for users, what's the reason to download and use Cortana? Secondly, as mentioned above, the usage rate of voice assistant on smartphone is not high, which will undoubtedly dilute the power of users to use Cortana on IOS and Android.

Facts speak louder than words. In 2018, three years after landing on IOS and Android, according to the statistics of Loup ventures on the voice assistant in the U.S. smart phone market in 2018, Cortana has only 4% of the market share, far lower than the 44% and 30% of the market share of Apple Siri and Google assistant, or even lower than the 17% of Alex.

From this point of view, we can only say that at that time Microsoft still placed Cortana's hope on the smartphone side, and also strangely "entrusted" it to its rivals, which is more like a speculative strategy. It is this speculative strategy that makes Microsoft not only lose the opportunity to promote Cortana on its rival platform, ignore the success of Amazon echo and Google's follow-up, but also miss a great opportunity to correct mistakes.

Invokebelatedly join forces with Amazon Microsoft's hindsight

It is because of the poor effect of launching Cortana on IOS and Android, and seeing the prosperity of Amazon and Google using smart speakers to help their voice assistant ecosystem, Microsoft finally released the smart speaker invoke with Cortana at the end of 2017.

At that time, there was a comment in the industry that Microsoft was finally aware of this. But we don't think so.

First of all, from the perspective of smart speaker market, by 2017, according to emarketer, Amazon's echo had a 70.6% share of smart speaker Market in the United States at that time, while Google home, Google's smart speaker, had a 23.8% market share, which was such a huge leading advantage. At this time, when micro soft entered the smart speaker market, it seemed that there was no more powerful leverage except price But the problem is pricing.

Its $199.95 price is much higher than Amazon and Google, which are already established and leading in the smart speaker market. Just take the promotion season at the end of 2017 as an example. At that time, Amazon and Google, which dominate the smart speaker market, were still grabbing the market with a low price range of $49, including echo dot and Google home mini, which would even be as low as $29.

In addition to the price, in the category of smart speakers, Microsoft is also small compared with Amazon and Google. Take Amazon's echo as an example. In 2017, there were up to seven product categories of Amazon's echo series. By 2019, 15 echo series products were released at one time. In addition, Amazon and Google have entered the smart speaker Market before Microsoft, and their ecology has already opened the distance with Microsoft. As of the second quarter of 2017, Amazon's number of applications (skills) based on Alex has reached about 15000, compared with 65 based on Microsoft Cortana due to the lack of hardware platform support (including logging in IOS and Android).

If the above-mentioned is Microsoft's "know it before you know it", it announced the cooperation with Amazon Alex in the same year, that is, Alexa and Cortana integrated voice products. Generally speaking, the two digital assistants will be able to "summon" each other, and to provide the functions they do not have is the strategic "know what you are not aware of".

Although there was a comment in the industry at that time that the cooperation between the two sides was complementary (Cortana is more oriented to office and Alexa is more oriented to entertainment), it is true in theory, but in the process of specific cooperation, the core functions of the two sides still could not be smoothly invoked.

According to foreign media tests, every time Alexa is asked to turn on Cortana or Cortana turns on Alexa, the language skills become very complex after about 30 seconds; the key functions of both assistants are currently missing. For example, the integrated virtual assistant doesn't play any music or broadcast now; Cortana can read Google Calendar and Microsoft email in echo, but can't read Google g suite email; on the invoke speaker, users can't interrupt Alexa, they have to listen to the whole information, etc.

In fact, here, Microsoft repeats the previous speculation error of entering the IOS and Android platforms. What's more, since we have decided to cooperate with Amazon, why launch the invoke speaker? Isn't it obvious to compete with Amazon? In this case, both parties have speculative elements, but Microsoft has more speculative elements. It's just that Microsoft at that time forgot the result of Cortana's entry into IOS and Android platform.

Similar to IOS and Android platforms, Microsoft's invoke has not made much progress in its cooperation with Amazon.

According to the statistics of Loup ventures, as of January this year, Amazon's echo series still ranked first in the U.S. smart speaker Market with 61.1% market share, and Google ranked second with 23.8%. In contrast, Microsoft's invoke is only classified as other, or even inferior to Apple's homepod with high price.

In the future, it's also from Loup ventures. Even by 2025, Microsoft's global (note not only the U.S.) smart speakers will only be classified in other fields, which means its market share in the global smart speakers can be ignored.

In fact, Microsoft itself is not optimistic about the sales volume of invoke. According to Microsoft's survey, only 5% of smart speaker buyers plan to acquire hamancarton smart speaker invoke this year, which is much lower than Amazon's and Google's smart speaker products.

Technology decline PCEnd of the "advantage" truth.

According to a study released by Microsoft, Cortana is only slightly less used than Alexa, which has become the technology's digital assistant. The data, based on an online survey of 5000 US respondents, claims that 19% use Cortana, 25% use Alexa, 36% use Siri, and 36% use Google assistant smart assistant. While Cortana is on most windows 10 pcs, Alexa is the most popular smart speaker device.

In addition, Microsoft said that at present, about 148 million people use Cortana every month, so it seems that Microsoft Cortana's performance is not so bad, at least compared with that in smart speakers and smart phones, if considering the PC end. But the way that PC users use Cortana is that many people use Cortana search box to extract the data stored in outlook email, address book, calendar application and network, instead of using its voice recognition function. That is to say, most of Cortana's active users are not only on Windows PC system, but also many scenes of search (note that Cortana's text input box rather than voice).

So the problem is obvious. Although many users are using Cortana, it is more appropriate to use text search than voice. The reason why Microsoft set the search box in Cortana at the beginning is that when the voice is not easy to recognize, users can select the search box to input text for operation, and the actual situation is the same, which reflects Cortana's technical level (mainly refers to voice recognition ability).

When it comes to technology, Nikko strom, a senior chief scientist at Alexa, once said that the more you use a product design, the smarter Alexa will be. This means that for voice assistant, its recognition rate will continue to improve only if users use it frequently. However, since the release of Cortana, Microsoft has failed to realize the large-scale application of Cortana, no matter whether it is the cooperation between IOS and Android and Amazon, or the release of invoke. In fact, its technical level has lagged behind its competitors from the previous lead.

According to the data of stone temple, in 2017, Microsoft Cortana's correct recognition rate for 5000 voice is 82%, ranking second only to Google assistant, Siri of apple and Alex of Amazon.

But in 2018, according to the statistics of Loup ventures, Google assistant still performed the best in understanding and answering questions. It correctly understood all the questions, and the accuracy rate of answering reached 87.9%. By contrast, Cortana's response accuracy is only 63.4%, far behind Google, but also surpassed by Siri and Alex, ranking at the bottom of the four major speech recognition. But this year, in the relevant tests of Loup ventures, Cortana no longer appears.

Don't underestimate the decline in technology. Recently, pindrop, which specializes in IT industry research, released a report saying Cortana has gained more popularity in the business field. According to the survey results of the report, 27% of the surveyed enterprises are currently using voice assistant, and more than 70% of the enterprises are eager to deploy voice assistant in daily office. Cortana is the preferred voice assistant service for 78% of the surveyed enterprises, and may invest in deployment within 2 years.

It is believed that most people will think that Microsoft has obvious advantages in the business field of PC end when they see this report, but as long as a little observation is made, Google's Google assistant selection rate is also 78%, which should be tied with Cortana; Amazon's echo (which should be Alex) is 77%, which is only one percentage point less than Cortana, ranking third in the selection of enterprises. Thus, the decline of technology will give the opponent a chance. Even Microsoft has the barrier of the natural advantage of PC.

To sum up, we believe that since Cortana's release, Microsoft has repeatedly misjudged and misjudged its strategy, which ultimately leads to failure in the mobile market represented by smart phones and the voice best application scenario represented by smart speakers. In this process, Cortana's own competitive strength has been continuously weakened, and now the only natural barrier PC-side business application is left, In addition to the deformation of the application, it is also encountering the strong challenge of the opponent and still on the way of being "killed".

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