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Microsoft Was Listing Amazon Echo for Sale, Now It’s Not

Microsoft turned some heads over the weekend when it listed Amazon Echo and Echo Dot for sale on its website. First spotted by Twitter user WalkingCat, the two devices appear now to have been removed.

The Verge, Engadget, and others posted short stories about the move. This appears to be a premature listing as we sometimes see on company websites. However, it is rare that a device shows up on a website never to return. Microsoft may have inadvertently tipped its hat prior to an official announcement. Black Friday is almost upon us and listing Amazon Echo products on is the type of news that both companies may appreciate.

Microsoft Shifts Cortana Strategy

Many people are aware of Cortana’s integration with Alexa earlier this year and that Xbox now supports Alexa commands. An article in Engadget noted that these and other recent moves by Microsoft suggest a formal change in strategy.

“Where Microsoft originally pitched Cortana as a direct competitor to other mainstream voice assistants, it has shifted the AI helper’s focus toward chatbots and behind-the-scene tasks that are more useful to the corporate crowd than home users. The VP in charge of Cortana, Javier Soltero, is reportedly leaving Microsoft as the company moves its assistant from its AI team to its Experiences and Devices group. For now, Alexa appears to be Microsoft’s voice assistant of choice for everyday users.”

Voicebot predicted in early 2017 that Microsoft would and should reorient Cortana away from consumer use cases to the enterprise. Each successive move by the company seems to be headed in this direction including the Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise announced in September. The Cortana-enabled Harman Kardon Invoke has not been a big consumer seller and seceding this space through a partnership with Amazon was clearly preferable to Microsoft than a tie-up with Google. Microsoft’s key assets are in areas of the enterprise where Amazon has little or no footprint today so the alliance comes with few near-term conflicts. Expect to see those pages back up on before the week is out.


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