As of 2017, Alexa controlled a huge 62% worldwide market share among digital assistants, while Google Assistant recorded impressive growth and captured a market share of 25%. If the rumour is true Microsoft may be going down that road with smart speakers also.
Microsoft might be ready to rejoin the smart speaker wars with a new reference device made by partnering ODM Quanta.
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Some reports also suggest that Qualcomm will have a part in hardware of the device and even Qualcomm itself declared at CES 2018 that its smart home technology would support Cortana. The report also mentions that the smart speaker will be powered by the Snapdragon 212 SoC. It is based on ARM's Cortex A7 architecture and clocked at 1.3GHz. This may not seem like a powerful chip but a smart speaker doesn't need good processing power as everything is done in the cloud.
It is too early to tell at this time but it does show that Microsoft hasn't given up on the smart speaker market just yet and that they still have full confidence in Cortana as their virtual assistant of choice.
As far as project status is concerned, the design of reference boards has been completed. A lot of things have to be considered before they decide to manufacture it in large scale. Undoubtedly the company will face a tough competition with Amazon's Alexa and others. Microsoft and Apple are probably the one firms that don't have any smart speakers in India.