Xiaomi, Microsoft plan AI cooperation

Xiaomi Corp inked a deal with Microsoft Corp on Friday to deepen cooperation in artificial intelligence, cloud computing and laptops, as part of the Chinese smartphone vendor’s going-global efforts this year.

The move came after Xiaomi turned in a stellar performance in overseas markets in 2017 and is an extension of the close ties between the two tech heavyweights in patents, technology as well as products.Under the new memorandum of understanding, Microsoft will leverage its prowess in AI and cloud services to combine with Xiaomi’s strength in smart devices, to create better products and help the latter in its global efforts.

The two sides are exploring ways of using Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure to help Xiaomi’s overseas users store data. They will also deepen cooperation in marketing and retailing channels as well as research and development to help Xiaomi’s laptops enter more foreign countries.Harry Shum, executive vice-president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, said Xiaomi is one of the most innovative Chinese companies.

“Microsoft’s solid strength in AI research, its rich experience and competitive products and services will help Xiaomi bring cutting-edge technologies to every user in the global market,” Shum said in a statement.Both parties are also discussing how to integrate Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant Cortana into Xiaomi’s smart speakers, which can also be sold in more overseas markets.Xiaomi is battling domestic peer Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and US tech giant Apple Inc for more market share in the global smartphone arena. In the fourth quarter of 2017, it displaced Samsung Electronics Co as the top smartphone vendor in India, the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, according to a report by market research company Canalys.

Friday’s deal came after Xiaomi bought nearly 1,500 technology patents from Microsoft in 2016, which is supposed to smoothen potential legal tangles over intellectual property as it pushes beyond China.Xiang Ligang, a telecom expert and CEO of telecom industry website cctime.com, said: “The deepened ties between Xiaomi and Microsoft will definitely facilitate the former’s foray into overseas markets, but Xiaomi still needs to pour more resources into in-house research and development to achieve long-term and robust growth.”