Microsoft and Xiaomi Stepping Up Together for AI-Powered Smartphones and Speakers

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The two companies, which previously worked together on a patent coss-licensing and app pre-install deal, have signed a Strategic Framework Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) meant to deepen their ties around cloud computing, AI, and hardware. The deal also serves to expand Microsoft's cloud and AI services with a growing hardware partner. It didn't go as well as the fans hoped considering the fact that the Mi 4 was an extremely successful smartphone. On one hand, Xiaomi will be able to bring its smart devices like smartphones and laptops to an global market using Microsoft's cloud computing products, including Azure. This deal was signed somewhere between May and June of 2016 and thereafter Xiaomi started preinstalling Microsoft Office and Skype apps on their devices.

In the AI space, the companies are in discussions to bring Cortana to Xiaomi's Mi AI speaker. Apple too, recently entered the market with its AI-based smart speaker HomePod. To date, Cortana has only been used in one smart speaker, the Harmon Kardon Invoke.

"We have signed a Strategic MoU today with Microsoft to collaborate in cloud support, AI and laptop-type devices".

When it comes to Cloud Support from MicrosoftXiaomi will use Microsoft Azure cloud services to store and manage its users' data. The American giant will also help Xiaomi with joint marketing and channel support to sell Xiaomi Windows laptops. They will also collaborate in personal assistants using their own existing devices, including Microsoft's Cortana.

From Xiaomi smartphones to laptops, smart TVs, and other smart gadgets, Microsoft will play an important role to boost the end-user experience. This would give them an opportunity in the laptop segment.

As for the case with AI collaboration the companies have agreed to work with Microsoft's AI technologies such as Computer Vision, Conversational AI, Speech, Natural Language Processing, and other well known Microsoft AI services like Bing, Cortana, Microsoft Translator, Pix, Swiftkey, and Skype. "Xiaomi's mission is to let everyone in the world enjoy technology".

Xiang Ligang, a telecom expert and CEO of telecom industry website cctime.com, said: "The deepened ties between Xiaomi and Microsoft will definitely facilitate the former's foray into overseas markets, but Xiaomi still needs to pour more resources into in-house research and development to achieve long-term and robust growth". It has so far been uncommon for a U.S. company to partner with a Chinese company on artificial intelligence, but it definitely makes sense as both countries are the biggest markets for those products and services.

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