In its annual mobile apps survey, Research firm Gartner predicted that by 2019 virtual assistants will account for 20% of all smartphone interactions . With that level of user engagement, predictably all of the largest technology companies are invested in the segment and each brings a different strength to the field.
Microsoft 's(NASDAQ: MSFT) Cortana is available across its Windows 10-based devices including phones, tablets and PC's. It has many competing features, but has exhibited difficulties responding to requests, reminiscent of Siri's early days. Microsoft announced late last year that it would open Cortana to third party integration, so expect a number of hardware integrations on the horizon. It has yet to introduce an interactive speaker, but its first hardware partner is Harman Kardon and one is expected sometime this year. In a shrewd move, the kit used by developers is remarkably similar to that of Alexa, allowing them to piggyback off the work they have already done. This will accelerate the process of producing hardware that will integrate Cortana.
Those interested in a task-based comparison between the four might find this article by Business Insider of interest. Despite the varying capabilities among these entries, one thing is clear: nearly every person with a computer, tablet, smartphone, or home speaker system will have access to a virtual personal assistant in the coming year. With this level of exposure, consumers will begin to adopt these virtual assistants, and as the technology becomes more advanced, providers will find new, more innovative ways to incorporate them into our everyday lives. Society is still in the early stages of the adoption cycle for these digital helpers, but it appears that this year is the tipping point.
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