Is Microsoft jealous of Siri? No, according to chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie, because Microsoft has had its own version of Siri available for over a year.
In an interview with Forbes tech writer Eric Savitz (below), Mundie said Siri probably got so much press because “people are infatuated with Apple.”
Apple is blessed with “good marketing,” but “you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced,” Mundie said.
Microsoft acquired TellMe in early 2007 and the companyannounced its first app
for Windows Mobile in April 2009—a downloadable program that let users dictate text messages, dial phone numbers, or search the Internet by voice.
“You just press and hold the center button on the bottom of the phone, and you can say things like ‘Start Outlook,'” Miller wrote. “You can go into Bing and say things like ‘Find Italian Restaurants near me.’ Or just say the name of an airline and flight, and get the status.”
Microsoft unveiled its Windows Phone 7 lineup
in October 2010, and while the mobile OS, particularly the most recent “Mango” update
, has been well-received, the smartphones have yet to fly off the shelves, thanks in large part to competition from Android devices and Apple’s iPhone.
Mundie conceded that “we probably could learn something on the marketing side.” But, he continued, Apple didn’t really have much to offer with the new iPhone, hence the focus on the Siri.
“In a sense, many people were disappointed with the [iPhone 4S
] because it wasn’t a completely new thing, so the only thing [Apple] really had to hammer on was [Siri],” Mundie said. “Maybe we need to pick a feature and hammer on it harder.”
When Windows Phone 7 came out, “many people wanted to write the company off as not being … a survivor in the phone segment,” Mundie said. “So in a sense, we’ve had to overcome our errors, if you will, in the transition from the old phone model to the new phone model.”
That new model includes a partnership with Nokia, which has committed to producing Windows-based devices. Nokia showed off its first Windows devices
in London recently and U.S.-based devices are expected to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show next year in Las Vegas.
Voice controls have also been integrated into the Kinect
sensor for the Xbox 360, which Mundie said was a “phenomenon.” Voice and gesture options will change “in a profound way” how people interact with TV in the future, he said, including the upcoming addition of live TV
from providers like Comcast and Verizon.