Taking on Apple and Google, Microsoft and Chinese electronics major Xiaomi have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered budget speakers and smartphones.
The companies would work closely in cloud computing, AI and hardware. Since they have chosen to sign a memorandum, their partnership is not legally binding and it is unclear if any financials are involved, The Verge reported late on Friday.
At the same time, the partnership will also give Microsoft more reach and access to the Chinese market.
According to the Chinese player, it stands to benefit from "Microsoft's globally leading technologies in Cloud computing and AI."
We have signed a Strategic MoU today with @Microsoft to collaborate in cloud support, AI and laptop-type devices. This will help accelerate our pace to bring more exciting products and services to our users, and also allow Microsoft to reach more users using Xiaomi products! pic.twitter.com/7AHhDVQQhu
— Wang Xiang (@XiangW_) February 23, 2018
Xiaomi might also integrate Microsoft Cortana with the Mi AI speaker — a budget speaker with a modern look.
So far, Microsoft has only developed one Cortana smart speaker "Harman Kardon Invoke" that has struggled to compete with other popular digital assistant speakers from Amazon, Google and Apple.
Microsoft and Xiaomi are also in talks about projects that will use several Microsoft AI technology, including conversational AI and speech and services like Bing, Edge and Skype, the report said.
Microsoft and Xiaomi have ties that date back to 2015, when they signed a deal to test Windows 10 on Xiaomi devices.
Last year, Xiaomi was the world's fifth most popular smartphone company, shipping 92.4 million phones, trailing the likes of Apple, Samsung and Huawei, according to numbers released by market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).