Alexa and Cortana are going to be friends.
Amazon and Microsoft have announced that their respective AI platforms will be able to communicate with each other by the end of the year. That means Alexa users will be able to access Microsoft software by voice command, and vice versa.
To many who have been following the escalating arms race between these and other major tech companies like Google and Apple to develop sophisticated voice-controlled AI assistants, the partnership will come as a surprise, especially given that it includes Amazon—a company that has come to dominate this field. But as the New York Times reports, it was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who suggested the collaboration to Microsoft’s Satya Nadella this past May. The executives believe that allowing greater functionality for end users will ultimately prove more advantageous than trying to compete.
Does this point to a future of mutually advantageous collaboration with other big players like Google and Apple? Bezos tells the Times he is open to the idea. But Apple in particular tends to maintain strict boundaries around its own hardware and software ecosystem.
In any case, the race continues, but with two of the top competitors on the same team.