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Find the Thrones

by M.G. Siegler


How Baidu Will Win China’s AI Race—and, Maybe, the World’s

Jessi Hempel sat down with Baidu COO Qi Lu:

But don’t you think that Amazon’s handicap is on its back end, in that it can’t keep up on the technology side with Google and Microsoft?
I worked on Cortana four and a half years ago. At the time we all were like, “Amazon, yeah, that technology is so far behind.” But one thing I learned is that in this race to AI, it’s actually more about having the right application scenarios and the right ecosystems. Google and Microsoft, technologically, were ahead of Amazon by a wide margin. But look at the AI race today. The Amazon Alexa ecosystem is far ahead of anybody else in the United States. It’s because they got the scenario right. They got the device right. Essentially, Alexa is an AI-first device.
Microsoft and Google made the same mistake. We focused on Cortana on the phone and PC, particularly the phone. The phone, in my view, is going to be, for the foreseeable future, a finger-first, mobile-first device. You need an AI-first device to solidify an emerging base of ecosystems.

I 100% agree with this. Zero chance Lu admits to this if he were still at Microsoft, but still good to hear the admission now. (Next up, Phil Schiller? He made comments not-too-long ago suggesting Apple had the same, incorrect, mentality -- before they announced HomePod, of course.)


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