Microsoft’s Technology and Research division have made their first acquision, SwiftKey. The company is best known for their Android and iOS apps, which have amassed hundreds of millions of users. When the news first broke, many failed to understand why Microsoft would by a 3rd party keyboard app. Microsoft already makes software keyboards that include the swipe and predictive technology, but SwiftKey is better and is the industry leader.
SwiftKey’s technology that enables the predictive suggestions of what users are attempting to write, leverages more than trillions of keystrokes across 100 different languages. Essentially they have built technology that understands languages and more important people, perhaps better than any other company. Microsoft says SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control and that’s the key reason behind the acquision.
The 8-year old company, started by co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, created enough value (real or perceived) that they were able to seel their technology for US$250 Million. This makes for a great pay day for their investors that put in around $22 Million.
Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Technology and Research says,
In the coming months, we’ll have more to share about how we’ll integrate SwiftKey technology with our Guinness World Record Word Flow technology for Windows. 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.
If a company can accurately predict what people want before they ask for it, that can be an incredibly useful service to offer. Its easy to see a world where the underlying infrastructure of input analysis and recommendations (AI) would be integrated into Cortana across Microsoft platforms.
Its articles like ‘2015 vs. 2016: What does language analysis tell us about Obama’s final State of the Union?’ that give you a great understanding of how far SwiftKey’s technology has come over the years and why Microsoft just bought much more than a keyboard company.
We ran Obama’s State of the Union address (you can read the full text of his addresshere) through an analytics tool that uses the same technology that we use to generate our language models. This tool specifically looks at which words and phrases the President over-indexed for, or used more often than average use in US English. You can see the results in two top 25 lists below: one for the most overused single words, and one for the most overused two-word phrases.