Cortana on iOS and Android was inevitable

Thomas Wellburn
June 3, 2015

Microsoft releasing Cortana on competing devices was one of my worst fears. However, it was always going to happen. It’s logical and good business.

Last week we heard that Cortana, Microsofts voice-activated personal assistant, would be heading to competing platforms iOS and Android. Many Windows Phone users groaned at the news, believing that it was a key feature that should remain exclusive to the platform. Unfortunately, basic business education teaches you to put your money in the places that matter most.

Cortana on iOS and Android is all part of a long-term plan for Microsoft. The idea makes a lot of sense when you take the time to think about it. Windows Phone only commands a 3% share of the smartphone market, with Android dominating the majority. There’s an untapped fountain of potential users on those platforms, if Microsoft plays their marketing strategy correctly.

A new hope

CEO Satya Nadella has shifted focus to mobile and cloud services, claiming that the future of Windows lies in a seamless experience across all devices. This means getting people to adopt the Micorsoft ecosystem, whether they use iOS, Android or Windows Phone. Whichever way you look at it, the desktop version of Windows is still the company’s biggest cash cow, dominating the home PC market.

To give users a seamless experience who don’t necessarily have a Windows device, it was important to release it on the rivals. With Cortana baked into the Windows 10 operating system, there’s a good chance that plenty of people will try it. When they realise that this experience can be integrated with their smartphone device – regardless of the platform, it’s a big win for Microsoft. It’s all about increasing awareness and opening up the platform to rake in those adopters.

Adopt or perish

When you have the adopters locked into your ecosystem, that’s the time when you start pushing exclusive features. That’s the time when you lock the competition out and begin creating services that offer a limited experience unless you commit.

Releasing a polished version of Cortana on competing devices that has almost all of the key features will ensure that rival users get a solid experience of what it has to offer, but not the full experience. With Cortana learning and improving all the time, the amount of extra data that the service will receive can only help it to become a much better overall product. Should Windows 10 turn out to be a huge success when it arrives in July (and later on mobile devices), then the momentum of the Microsoft machine will hit eleven.

If Microsoft succeeds in getting rival users to embrace the features of the new OS, then it’s good news for everyone, Windows Phone users included. For those of us who still harbour a bit of jealous on the subject, it’s time to swallow our pride and hope their strategic gamble pays off.

For more on Windows, visit What Mobile’s dedicated Windows page.

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