Xiaomi is one of the largest players in the Asian market when it comes to smartphones. Microsoft is one of the most valued companies in the world but is a more US-based company. Xiaomi being a Chinese company is trying very hard to get into the US market. Microsoft wants to have a lot more users of Xiaomi products. This would increase Microsoft’s userbase. So a partnership between these two companies would be great.
Microsoft and Xiaomi have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) which is basically an agreement that lets them create new technologies and develop existing technologies together.
The first deal that these two companies signed was in 2015 when Xiaomi agreed to test Windows 10 Mobile on Xiaomi Mi 4 using custom ROMs. It didn’t go as well as the fans hoped considering the fact that the Mi 4 was an extremely successful smartphone. Then in 2016 Xiaomi brought in a lot of patents from Microsoft which allowed them to use Microsoft services on their devices. This deal was signed somewhere between May and June of 2016 and thereafter Xiaomi started preinstalling Microsoft Office and Skype apps on their devices.
The main objective of this agreement is to integrate Microsoft’s Cortana into Xiaomi Smart speakers. Both the companies believe that there is a huge opportunity in the market for smart speakers as is the recent case with Google, Amazon and even Apple. Google Home speakers and Amazon Echo speakers are doing well in the market and the recently announced Apple Homepods will also bring in a lot of revenue to Apple as is the case with all Apple products. Microsoft has partnered with Harman Kardon to make the Invoke smart speaker which is having a really tough time in the market due to stiff competition from Amazon, Google, and the recent Homepods.
Other technologies that the companies decided to collaborate are Cloud support, Laptop devices, and AI services.
When it comes to Cloud Support from Microsoft Xiaomi will use Microsoft Azure cloud services to store and manage its users’ data.
In the case of Laptop-type devices, Xiaomi will launch laptops using the technology expertise from Microsoft. Microsoft has its expertise in the Surface devices. Microsoft will also assist in selling and marketing these Xiaomi laptops. Considering how Xiaomi prices its devices we can say that the laptops from Xiaomi will be affordable for the features it will offer. This will help both the companies. Xiaomi is known mostly because of their affordable smartphones. This would give them an opportunity in the laptop segment. Also, Microsoft will get more users for Windows 10 and other Microsoft services.
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.
Dr. Harry Shum who is the executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, said in a statement:
“Microsoft’s unique strengths and experience in AI, as well as our products like Azure, will enable Xiaomi to develop more cutting-edge technology for everyone around the world”
In response to this Wang Xiang, Global Senior Vice President and Head of International Business at Xiaomi said:
“Xiaomi’s mission is to deliver innovation to everyone around the world. By collaborating with Microsoft on multiple technology areas, Xiaomi will accelerate our pace to bring more exciting products and services to our users. At the same time, this partnership would allow Microsoft to reach more users around the world who are using Xiaomi products.”
This is great news for both the companies because Xiaomi will get access to world-class services from Microsoft and Microsoft will benefit from more users of Xiaomi devices. We can expect to see devices from Xiaomi made in conjunction with this partnership. But keep in mind that this was a MoU so this partnership is not legally binding and as of now we have no idea if any finances are involved.