Microsoft acquihires SwiftKey

Microsoft have made a number of acquisitions of popular productivity apps, most recently with the acquisition of Guiness typing word record holding keyboard technology SwiftKey.

Harry Shum, VP of Technology and Research at Microsoft:

This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio. Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control.

Federico Viticci:

Above all, SwiftKey is good tech for Microsoft. The acquisition gives them access to a large database of typing habits and patterns spanning 100 languages, and it’ll likely help them build text features on desktop and mobile. Long term, it’s hard to predict how Microsoft’s string of mobile app acquisitions will play out, but, right now, it’s clear that Microsoft is buying the best apps around.

This is why tech companies hoard money. Microsoft is now aware of its situation, of the waning popularity of Windows and the declining important of Office. The strategy of incorporating populist products into their admittedly still ubiquitous but stodgy product suite is a good idea, and their iOS apps in particular are arguably better than Apple’s now. Compare this to Apple’s strategy of acquikilling obscure startups for key technologies instead of whole products.

Microsoft want to replace every one of the default applications on your iPhone, they want you using their keyboard with their email client sharing documents from their productivity suite, and to do so their using their considerable cash hoard to fund development. Their in a good spot to do this, because Apple can’t compete with them on Android and Google can’t compete with them on native applications. I think the end game for Microsoft is to hook consumers on their products at home, and have them request support for them at work.

Of course, the other part of the SwiftKey acquihire is their machine learning talent, which is seriously competitive.