Microsoft To Support Xiaomi Android Smartphones With AI

Xiaomi and Microsoft are partnering on artificial intelligence technologies, cloud computing, and hardware, the two companies announced Friday, having formalized their collaboration with a Strategic Framework Memorandum of Understanding. Microsoft's solutions are hence set to be implemented into Xiaomi's future offerings in the smartphone and services segments, with the main goal of the partnership being to accelerate the Chinese firm's international expansion. Xiaomi is also expected to adopt Microsoft's Azure cloud platform to a larger extent going forward, though the exact scope of its efforts to do so remains unclear. The two companies have already been collaborating on a number of fronts in recent times, with Xiaomi manufacturing Windows-powered laptops for years. Microsoft-developed Android apps are also pre-installed on select Xiaomi models as of mid-2016.

The new partnership will see Xiaomi utilize Microsoft's marketing and distribution channels to promote its Windows laptops on a global level and may even lead to the creation of entirely new models. The firm's Mi AI Speaker could also receive support for Microsoft's assistant Cortana going forward, whereas the duo is also partnering on general AI applications in the fields of natural language processing, computer vision, conversational AI, and other segments. Skype, Bing, Edge, SwiftKey, Pix, and Translator were all mentioned as part of the opportunities the duo is set to explore, as were XiaoIce and Cognitive Services. The collaboration in the consumer electronics segment may also extend to Xiaomi's smart TVs, the companies suggested.

The Chinese startup has been leveraging Azure to a smaller extent since 2015 and has a standing IP sharing agreement with Microsoft. Strengthening its ties with the Redmond-based tech giant should allow the firm to make a more powerful global push in the immediate future, consequently helping its reported plans to go public later this year. By partnering with one of the world's most valuable companies, Xiaomi may convince more investors to back its initial public offering that's expected to be the industry's largest float in 2018, with the Beijing-based firm supposedly targeting a valuation of up to $100 billion. While Xiaomi previously considered New York for its IPO, it's much more likely to go public in Hong Kong in the second half of the year, according to recent reports.

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