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Microsoft is ready to challenge Amazon and Google in the battle of Internet-connected speakers.
The technology giant teased a few more details on Monday about its upcoming Invoke speaker, created in partnership with audio company Harmon Kardon. The new speaker will debut in fall, Microsoft said in an announcement.
The Invoke, which Microsoft (MSFT, -0.09%) first announced in December, will compete against Amazon's (AMZN, +1.44%) Echo and Google's (GOOG, +0.77%) Home. Like those speakers, Invoke will let people use their voices to cue it to play music, read the news, and schedule reminders.
Whereas Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant digital voice recognition technologies enable Echo and Google Home to understand and react to human voices, Microsoft’s Cortana will power the Invoke. Big tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have invested millions of dollars in their respective digital assistants, which they believe will be a major way that consumers will interact with computers—joining the standard keyboard, mouse, and touchscreen.
Like the Echo, the Invoke resembles a small, sleek cylinder wrapped in a speaker. Neither Microsoft nor Harmon Kardon have said how much Invoke will cost, only that it will be released later this year.
Echo sells for $180 while Home costs $130.
Microsoft is pitching Invoke’s ability to be synced to its Skype online-phone service as a standout feature that will let users make calls to cell phones, landlines and other Skype-enabled devices, the company said in a blog post. Currently, Echo and Home are unable to make phone calls, but it’s likely they eventually will be able to with both Amazon and Google investing in their own voice messaging services like Amazon Chime and Google Hangouts for business customers, and Duo for consumers.
Amazon’s Echo currently accounts for 70% of market share for the voice-controlled speaker market, followed by Google, which has 23.8%, according to research firm eMarketer.
Besides Microsoft, Apple is also reportedly looking to build its own Internet-connected speaker. Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller recently hinted that the tech giant is thinking about incorporating its Siri digital assistant into a so-called smart home hub.
About Echo, Schiller said, "if you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all."
More information on: http://fortune.com/2017/05/08/microsoft-harman-kardon-invoke/