Microsoft Acquires SwiftKey Mobile Predictive Keyboard

In its bid to "reinvent productivity," Microsoft snaps up the popular mobile software keyboard maker.


Add another company to the growing list of mobile acquisitions by Microsoft.

Confirming recent rumblings, the Redmond, Wash., software giant said today that it has snapped up SwiftKey, a maker of predictive software keyboard apps, for an undisclosed amount. The buy instantly and massively expands Microsoft's presence in the competitive mobile marketplace.

In a Feb. 3 announcement, Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft Technology and Research, noted that SwiftKey's "software keyboard and SDK [software development kit] powers more than 300 million Android and iOS devices." SwiftKey also aligns with Microsoft's productivity-focused product strategy, he added.

"SwiftKey estimates that its users have saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes, across 100 languages, saving more than 100,000 years in combined typing time. Those are impressive results for an app that launched initially on Android in 2010 and arrived on iOS less than two years ago," Shum said.

According to SwiftKey co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, there's little danger of their popular apps being yanked from app stores.

"Our number one focus has always been to build the best possible products for our users. This will not change," they blogged. "Our apps will continue to be available on Android and iOS, for free. We are as committed as ever to improving them in new and innovative ways."

Microsoft has a competing, fast-texting software keyboard for mobile Windows called Word Flow. The company is currently exploring how to integrate SwiftKey with Word Flow, revealed Shum. "In the interim, I'm extremely excited about the technology, talent and market position SwiftKey brings to us with this acquisition, and about how this further demonstrates Microsoft's desire to bring key apps and technologies to platforms from Windows to Android to iOS," he said.

SwiftKey's meteoric rise wasn't without its controversies.

As Microsoft itself has experienced, any popular software attracts its share of scrutiny pertaining to data security. Last year, security specialist NowSecure warned of a vulnerability in Samsung Android phones caused by the included SwiftKey app, though the risk is considered overblown compared with the other dangers faced by Android device users.

SwiftKey is the latest company to get caught up in Microsoft's mobile app buying spree.

In late 2014, the business-focused Acompli email app, along with its San Francisco-based developer, was taken off the market. The popular and well-regarded app lives on as Outlook for iOS and Android.

Nearly a year ago, Microsoft acquired the mobile calendar app Sunrise and its maker and followed up in April by purchasing mobile business-intelligence specialist Datazen. "This acquisition accelerates our Power BI strategy to help organizations create a data culture with easy-to-use, accessible tools to extract maximum value from data—from anywhere, on any device," said Kamal Hathi, partner director of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise division, of the latter purchase in a statement at the time.

In June, Microsoft announced it had bought the Wunderlist to-do app. Not stopping there, the company announced on Nov. 5 that it had acquired another San Francisco mobile developer, Mobile Data Labs, and its MileIQ mileage tracking apps for iOS and Android.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...