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Microsoft Cortana Assistant changes the landscape for these big players

Chris Lau, Kapitall: Microsoft Cortana Assistant is the software maker's first venture into voice service integration.

First there was Siri from Apple (AAPL), then Google Now from Google (GOOG). Finally, Microsoft (MSFT) is getting into the game. Microsoft Cortana Assitant extends Microsoft’s voice-activated services beyond voice recognition: it adapts to the user. This could change the landscape for personal assistants on devices.

Cortana a step ahead

Cortana is does more than recognize voice commands. It adapts to its users’ interests and preferences. Actions are triggered based on events, and searches are more capable of understanding context. Similar to Google Now’s reliance on Google search, Cortana relies on Bing. By introducing Bing’s capabilities through Cortana, Microsoft’s search engine will also benefit if Cortana is successful. Desktop and mobile usage for Bing should improve.

Microsoft’s other channels may also benefit from Cortana’s release. Xbox and Windows Phone will be more appealing to users as Microsoft integrates new services like Cortana.

Competition heats up for Nuance

Nuance Communications ( NUAN) could face more competition if Cortana is successful. Nuance is already used in Siri. Despite the rising competition in this space, Nuance is in transition, for instance, the company is working to boost revenue from the health care and the automotive sector.

Google should watch Cortana’s success carefully. Google Now had only Siri to compete with, but Cortana will throw the field into contention.

Conclusion

Apple and Google have little to worry about right now, since Microsoft is only starting to roll out voice recognition solutions to its products. If sentiment shifts and Windows Phone gains more market share, then Microsoft will be a bigger threat. Nuance might face some uncertainties in the short term, but it continues to reorganize its business to improve profitability. The sooner this is complete, the better Nuance will be, and the less it needs to worry about Microsoft.

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