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Microsoft's Counter Revolution against Apple will lead to the AI Battlefront

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In May Patently Apple posted a report titled "Microsoft's Panay makes it Clear: Surface is to Compete Directly with Apple." In that report we presented clear evidence that Panos Panay, Microsoft's Corporate VP for Surface, is obsessed with Apple's premium devices and plans to challenge Apple on every hardware front going forward from next-gen Surface smartphones (likely this fall), to the Surface Book, to Surface tablets and the rumored all-in-one Surface PC to take on the iMac. This has been Microsoft's plan for some time because even former CEO Steve Ballmer was pounding the table about this eventuality last October.


Microsoft has been trying to lure business users that defected to the Mac over the last decade with new macOS and iOS friendly business apps and especially Skype for Business (One, two and three). With Microsoft likely to launch their Surface smartphone this year, Microsoft is preparing a Surface smartphone video Videoconferencing device to tie into Skype as noted below. The design patent was issued to Microsoft earlier this week.




When Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs introduced iTunes for Windows, Hell froze over. Jobs knew that in order to win at something to rebuild Apple, they had to bring their software to Windows – and it succeeded beyond anyone's dream. It acted as the ultimate Trojan horse.


As the larger pool of new customers fell in love with the iPod and iTunes, Apple launched the iPhone and then the iPad dubbing them post-PC devices and the Windows base of customers followed the pied piper. Ballmer thought the iPhone was a joke until it was too late. Apple had eaten Microsoft's brain from the inside like the alien ants typically do in good episode of BrainDead.


Now Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella has taken over and super friendly with Apple and their customers. Nadella has ordered his team to create new software with much of it landing first on Apple devices knowing that they could appeal to those who were once avid Windows fans and business users.



Panos Panay has been given the green light to match all key Apple devices via the 'Surface' brand, with two of the big pieces likely to rollout between the fall of 2016 and 2017. Microsoft is out to return the favor and deliver a Trojan horse of their own until war is declared at some time in the future.


The only way to win back their former customers is to match or beat Apple at everything from PC's to mobile to and wearables devices through to AI where their biggest gamble rests.


Microsoft Bets the Farm on Artificial Intelligence


Microsoft is proud of its work on AI, and eager to convey the sense that this time around, it's poised to win. In June, Microsoft invited The Verge to its campus to interview some of Nadella's top lieutenants, who are building AI into every corner of the company's business. "Over the next two days, Microsoft showed Verge writer Casey Newton a wide range of applications for its advancements in natural language processing and machine learning.


The company, as ever, talks a big game. Microsoft's historical instincts about where technology is going have been spot-on. But the company has a record of dropping the ball when it comes to acting on that instinct. It saw the promise in smartphones and tablets, for example, long before its peers. But Apple and Google beat Microsoft anyway. The question looming over the company's efforts around AI is simple: Why should it be different this time?"


The Verge's report is an interesting read to see how Microsoft is trying to reinvent themselves as Apple did under Steve Jobs. Though one thing is for sure – Facebook, Amazon, Google and Microsoft are collectively trying to persuade the tech press that their work on delivering next generation apps based on AI will overtake the current app model that Apple has created – and that Apple is not really in the AI race.


On June 29 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Forbes Misguided View is that Apple has missed the AI Revolution."



We noted in our report that Jon Markman, a contributor to Forbes made it clear that in his view Apple wasn't even in the artificial intelligence race. According to Markman – "Apple is not built to compete in that new paradigm."


Of course Apple was thinking about AI way back in 1987 with their video about the future "Knowledge Navigator," before anyone in the personal computer world and before Facebook, Amazon and Google even existed




Then on July 3 Patently Apple posted a report titled "The Vision of Artificial Intelligence According to the Gospel of Google," That report covered the UK's Telegraph report and "exclusive" with Google about "life beyond the smartphone."


And so in the last ten days Forbes, The Telegraph and now The Verge have focused on the ones thought to be the leaders in AI. Apple apparently doesn't have the spotlight it once did with Steve Jobs. So where's Apple's CEO Tim Cook on this? Why isn't he talking it up with the press for their work in this area to dispel this image that Apple is not going to be relevant in the next wave of the internet?


On one side, you could say that Tim Cook is spending more of his time on LBGTQ issues with various Governments and on civil rights issues with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' Board and that they're distracting him from pounding the table for Apple's work on artificial intelligence. You could make that case but it really wouldn't stick.


On the other side, Apple still believes in secrecy instead of being bombastic about future plans and projects in the press. Yes, it's maddening like hell as a fan to see the other tech giants making their pitches loudly about their AI leadership while Apple stays silent.


Apple took their "secrecy philosophy" to new heights under Steve Jobs as "The little engine that could" story in the tech world. It made sense back then while their goal was to work in silence on their plan to kill Microsoft. But does that philosophy still matter now that they're at the top of their game? Shouldn't they use their influence to bury those trying to elbow their way to the top? For the time being, the answer is still no.


I made the point last week and I'll say it again. It was Apple who saw the potential of AI with Siri on devices before Google or Amazon ever did. So to assume AI is a Google led revolution is a little egotistical if not delusional. True, perhaps Apple had temporarily fallen asleep at the wheel and squandered their AI lead, but they've since acquired Vocal IQ who once called Siri a toy. Apple's next-gen AI technology will no doubt be able to go toe to toe with Google Amazon and others. Vocal IQ's technology is extensive by covering an auto-pilot driver assistance, home automation and wearables.


Apple is far from missing the post-mobile revolution which is still years away from being meaningful and making money. Apple is moving Siri further into Apple TV and will bringing it to the Mac this fall.


So in the big picture the so-called leaders in AI are still just big talkers. And specifically, Microsoft's CEO getting all excited about wearing his HoloLens and talking up its potential is cute in business and yet I can't see executives and general workers walking around the office with big gawky goggles on just so that they could see invisible calendars on the wall.


In the end, it'll be about delivering AI in real products with real solutions that a company can build a business around. Otherwise it's just another Google Moon Shot concept that's dreamy but useless. And in the end, Apple will be one of the leaders in this race even if the little cabal are trying everything they can to elbow Apple out of the future. It's just not going to happen.


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