Disappointingly, but not all that surprisingly, Harman Kardon isn’t just sticking with Cortana when it comes to smart speakers. This week, the firm announced that it will also offer smart speakers based on Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa too.
Well, so much for that.
Harman Kardon’s Cortana-based smart speaker, the Invoke, generated a lot of buzz in the Windows community when it was teased in late 2016 and then finally formally announced in May 2017. But as I noted in Cortanagate: Round and Round We Go, Microsoft just can’t seem to stop punching itself in its face, in this case by having the murkiest and slowest imaginable strategy for getting its digital personal assistant out to devices.
Microsoft finally discussed its Cortana strategy with me in January—they’re playing a long game, basically—but with the months rolling by, the Invoke never shipping, and more and more Alexa- and Google Assistant-powered smart speakers being announced, especially this week at IFA, hopes for a Cortana success get dimmer by the day. And it doesn’t help that Microsoft just relegated Cortana to also-ran status by making it just another Alexa skill.
So this news shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Harmon Kardon, the only company that has actually announced a Cortana-based smart speaker so far, is also releasing smart speakers based on successful personal digital assistants. In this case, the two most successful, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Harman Kardon Allure. The Allure is powered by Amazon Alexa and features 360-degree Harman Kardon sound. It features a modern and transparent design, far-field voice recognition, and ambient lighting, and will be available in “winter 2017” for $250.
JBL LINK series. This series of speakers by Harmon Kardon’s JBL brand combines JBL’s Signature Sound with the Google Assistant. There are three models, the LINK 10 ($150), LINK 20 ($200), and LINK 300 ($250). Each offers Chromecast technology with multi-room audio support, HD audio streaming, and Bluetooth. The LINK 10 and 20 are both portable and battery powered, and waterproof.
Depressing. Yeah. But I guess I’m getting used to this kind of thing.