Microsoft held its ‘Build’ developer conference in Seattle, Washington earlier this week. There, BMW and the tech giant revealed that the two brands are working on co-developing a joint intelligent voice interaction platform intended for implementation in BMW vehicles fitted with its recently announced BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant system.
BMW and Microsoft were scant on details for now. However, Bimmer’s press release did describe a hypothetical situation in which a vehicle owner is reminded by his or her in-car Intelligent Personal Assistant that a vehicle service is due. Through natural conversation, the driver and the Assistant schedule a service at a nearby BMW dealer. En route to the service appointment, the driver is able to manage their emails and calendar appointments with the help of the Assistant — again, through natural conversation.
It’s a cool idea for sure. But pretty unexciting, if I am honest. I mean, no one is going to beeline to the BMW dealership to buy a car that will chat with them about service appointments and calendar management. Surely, the capabilities of the Intelligent Personal Assistant will extend beyond that. I assume Bimmer and Microsoft are just being coy at the moment.
The partnership makes sense for both. However, I wonder how close to the chest Bimmer is playing its cards. While it’d be helpful to up the tech inside their vehicles with the help of Microsoft, the German automaker runs the risk of stepping out onto a slippery slope.
By that I mean, if Microsoft gets too entangled in BMW vehicle inner workings, it could A.) Become inexorably intertwined and maybe sully things. Or worst of all B.) Become the dominant force in the relationship and turn Bimmer into its coach builder. Imagine ‘The Microsoft Car by BMW,’ for example.
I am sure the Bimmer brass is protecting the company sufficiently from such an eventuality. Still, though, it’s got to give them pause and make them wonder if what they’re giving up is worth the potential risk.