Microsoft’s ‘me too’ smart speaker

“First there was Amazon’s Echo, which I characterized as an attempt to advance home automation through Amazon’s Alexa AI. Then there was Google Home, first unveiled last year at Google IO,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “Now comes Microsoft’s Invoke, powered by Cortana and built by Samsung.”

“On the hardware side, there isn’t much that the companies can do to create product differentiation. Microsoft tries by enlisting the help of Harmon Kardon, owned by Samsung, to create a miniature speaker with better sound. Harmon Kardon’s involvement may have helped, but this isn’t about sound quality,” Hibben writes. “This is a battle between AIs, whose artificial thoughts bounce around literally thousands of servers somewhere in the Cloud. The smart speakers themselves are just a way to get the AI into your home so that you’ll keep using it even after you put down your smartphone, tablet, or AI-powered laptop.”

Microsoft Invoke

“Microsoft’s need for a smart speaker is especially acute, since it doesn’t have a smartphone platform of significance. That may explain Invoke’s… ability to make and receive Skype calls,” Hibben writes. “And Apple appears to be interested in this genre-bending device as well.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Instant also-ran. The Zune of smart speakers.

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away from Amazon’s Echo since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users.

Amazon dominates market for voice-controlled speakers – May 9, 2017
Bloomberg: Unclear if Apple’s forthcoming Siri Speaker will feature a display; Amazon would love to integrate Apple Music on Echo – May 9, 2017
Amazon unveils ‘Echo Show’ with a display for video calls and more; ships June 28 – May 9, 2017
Phil Schiller on Amazon Echo-like devices and more – May 6, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo rumored to borrow trashcan Mac Pro design cues, could arrive at WWDC – April 28, 2017
Following debut of Echo Look with built-in camera, Amazon likely reveal new Echo device with a built-in display – April 27, 2017
Apple said to be working on a Siri-based Amazon Echo rival – April 27, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo: What if AirPort Extreme becomes the Siri speaker? – December 1, 2016
Apple abandons development of wireless routers – November 21, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo – September 26, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo rival said to include includes built-in cameras to read users’ emotions, recognize faces – September 23, 2016
Apple’s Siri-powered Amazon Echo-like device reportedly now in prototype testing – September 23, 2016
Why an ‘Apple Echo’ would be a hit – June 15, 2016
New Apple TV to take on Amazon’s Echo, source says – May 26, 2016
Apple preps Amazon Echo rival, opening up Siri – May 24, 2016
Apple should make a stationary voice command device like Amazon’s Echo – May 19, 2016
Google unveils its Amazon Echo knockoff called ‘Google Home’ – May 18, 2016
Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo? – March 31, 2016
Amazon Echo leads mindshare in smart home platform war – February 29, 2016
Why did Apple buy a startup whose tech can read emotions via facial recognition? – January 7, 2016
Apple buys Emotient, maker of artificial-intelligence tech that reads emotion by analyzing facial expressions – January 7, 2016


  1. “Once they finally get something shipping in quantity…”

    Yeah. Whenever that is. TV is still a hobby. HomeKit is….what? MacPro is?

    Anybody one individual charge, or is this mgmt by committee? You know, like a MS product naming committee…

  2. “Once they finally get something shipping in quantity…”

    Yeah. Whenever that is. TV is still a hobby. HomeKit is….what? MacPro is?

    Anybody/one individual in charge, or is this mgmt by committee? You know, like a MS product naming committee…

  3. But someday you wonder if Apple’s being too late to the market will come back and bite them, taking their eventual supremacy for granted and the ecosystem fails them to some other paradigm shift. Better to be the leader than an apparent follower. It seems others are taking the Steve Jobs first-at-bat device delight mantle. Easily avoidable debacles like Maps & Mac Pro aren’t inspiring confidence.

  4. With all the calls for Apple to be the first to come out with new, market leading, devices people forget that they are often not the first to market.
    There were plenty of MP3 players before ipod came and took over the market. Iphone wasn’t the first smartphone but Apple did it right and redefined the market.
    Apple doesn’t need to be first all the time.

    1. People also seem to forget that Apple already has hundreds of millions of devices in homes (and on the go) already that can pretty much do what these devices do. They are not “behind” just because they don’t have a dedicated “listening” device, as people seem to argue.

      Amazon and now Microsoft are in this because their other devices have failed to make it into people’s homes.

      And Google, well, they certainly aren’t going to sit out on the opportunity to gather even more data on their users.

    1. To which Siri will respond, “I found this on Wikipedia: A curb (American English), or kerb (British English), is the edge where a raised sidewalk (pavement) or road median/central reservation meets a street or other roadway.”

      Context will always be an embarrassment for these voice assistants.


    …none of these things are at a place I could comfortably call “good.” There is a ton of work to be done. The problems here are large and sweeping:

    • Each assistant still feels like a fragile, thinly veiled web of loosely connected services — because that’s what they are. It’s almost impossible to tell when one of them won’t be able to do the thing you asked.

    • You have to be OK giving up your location and loads of personal data to get the most out of them.

    • There are numerous instances where using a web browser is simply faster for doing fundamental tasks. There is a reason most people use their Echo for the simplest of functions — it’s not worth slowing down your workflow to do anything else.

    • Each one is still wildly finicky when it comes to phrasing. They all think too much in black and white; one misplaced or forgotten word is often enough to discard an entire request.

    • It’s incredibly uncomfortable to speak to an inanimate thing in public.

    • In Google Assistant’s case, normalizing the need to call on a brand (“OK Google”) whenever you need a hand is Orwellian.

    Bottom line:

    Siri is patchwork
    Cortana is a Bing shortcut

    Why anyone would waste their time with these snarky data snoopers is beyond me.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.