Microsoft Cortana Takes On a 'Bigger' Siri

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2014-11-24 Print this article Print

The digital assistants from Microsoft and Apple spar again in a new ad that pokes fun at the iPhone's new larger dimensions in time of the holidays.

Cortana and Siri are at it again in a new TV commercial from Microsoft.

The latest in a series of advertisements poking fun at Apple's Siri once again pits the digital assistants against one another. This time, Microsoft takes aim at Siri's new phablet-sized home, the iPhone 6 Plus.

While cheery music loops in the background, Cortana congratulates Siri's move to a new, more spacious phone before barraging the virtual assistant with questions. First, Cortana asks if Siri has taken on some of her traits, like the ability to display "reminders based on who calls or texts," a signature capability of the Microsoft technology.

"No. I got bigger," is Siri's deadpan reply. When asked about personalized trip alerts based on traffic conditions—another Cortana capability—Siri answers, "No. Seriously, I just got bigger."

Alluding to the age-old tradition of packing on the pounds during the holidays, Cortana says, "That's OK, happens to everyone this time of year."

The ad is part of an ongoing campaign by Microsoft to help popularize Cortana, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan's answer to Apple's Siri and Google Now. Part of the Windows Phone 8.1 mobile operating system, and hence handsets like Microsoft's low-cost Lumia 535, the Bing-powered, voice-enabled assistant leverages a Notebook feature to keep track of a user's interests and activities for more accurate predictions.

Compared with Siri, Cortana edges ahead of Siri when it comes to privacy controls, eWEEK's Don Reisinger found this summer. He also discovered that Cortana has several "Easter Eggs" in store for cheeky users. Like Siri, Cortana will give humorous responses to silly questions.

Despite the effort, Microsoft faces an uphill battle.

Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, although considered a late response to the phablet craze and strong-selling smartphones like Samsung's big-screened Galaxy line, won over critics and consumers alike.

Reviewers lauded the iPhone 6's new 4.7-inch screen size, thin profile and snappy performance. The iPhone 6 Plus is similarly responsive and packs a striking 5.5-inch screen that excels at playing video and displaying photos. Even "bendgate," the iPhone 6 bending controversy, did little to temper the enthusiasm for the phones.

During the Sept. 19 weekend launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple managed to sell 10 million units, a record-setting amount. ""We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin," said Apple's CEO Tim Cook in a Sept. 22 statement.

As the massive lines that snaked around Apple retail stores indicated, supply couldn't keep up with demand. "While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible," added Cook.


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