Microsoft and Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi have signed a new agreement that outlines an initiative to work closely in the areas of AI, hardware, and cloud computing.
The agreement, titled “Strategic Framework Memorandum of Understanding”, is the latest in a series of similar joint initiatives between the two companies dating back to 2015 when Xiaomi adopted Microsoft Azure to operate its Mi Cloud service. Later, in 2016, the two companies finalized a global partnership and Microsoft’s Office and Skype apps came pre-loaded on Xiaomi’s Android smartphones.
Dr. Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group said, “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.”
This latest agreement enables the companies to collaborate in four major areas. The first being cloud support, where Xiaomi agreed to explore using Microsoft Azure’s platform for its user data storage, bandwidth, computing, and other services, globally.
For Microsoft, this means more tractions for its Azure cloud platform in the Chinese and Asia-Pacific region where its fiercest competitors include Amazon Web Services and Alibaba.
AI and Software
Microsoft Cortana, the virtual assistant AI application that became a staple in Microsoft products since the release of Windows 10, is being considered for use on Xiaomi’s Mi AI Speaker. Cortana is currently available for a number of platforms including Windows, Android, iOS, XBox OS, and others.
Other AI services addressed in the new agreement include a host of collaborative ventures in computer vision, speech, natural language, text input, search, and more. Additionally, several key Microsoft services including Skype and Bing are also including in the list being explored for cooperative projects.
Another area where the two companies will start working more closely together is in hardware. Specifically, in laptop-type devices where Xiaomi intends to leverage Microsoft’s support on join marketing, channel support, and future product development. The goal here is to help Xiaomi bring its laptop and laptop-like devices to additional international markets.
The two companies have worked closely together in the past, and this new agreement solidifies their intentions to continue to do so moving forward. Virtually every aspect of their businesses is tied into the new agreement. Moving forward, we can expect to see more joint announcements from Microsoft and Xiaomi as their collaboration continues.