Microsoft has bought out popular keyboard app SwiftKey, continuing its streak of acquiring apps to boost its presence across all platforms. The transaction is now official, with plans to incorporate the tool’s features into its own Word Flow keyboard in the future.
An insider source asserts that Microsoft is paying $250 million to take over SwiftKey. The development is interesting considering the fact that the app doesn’t even support the former’s OS and is currently only compatible with iOS and Android. The company claims it has over 300 million users across both platforms.
As reported by the Financial Times (via The Verge), SwiftKey is struggling to hit upon a reliable business model. The tool began as a paid app but eventually switched to a freemium model which offers in-app purchases. It’s been facing increasing competition from all quarters ever since rival applications began to pop up and handset makers made swipeable keyboards an in-built feature.
This situation answers why SwiftKey is in need of financial assistance, but doesn’t explain why Microsoft feels the need to buy a keyboard app when it doesn’t really require one. The solution to that lies in the former’s venture into Artificial Intelligence. The brand had launched an experimental app dubbed SwiftKey Neural Alpha last year, looking to use machine learning to better predict words.
The app utilizes artificial neural networks to motor its processes, taking advantage of deep learning techniques to improve its understanding of context and word relationships. Microsoft has shown a great interest in the field of AI in the past, even incorporating machine learning tools into its Selfie app which came out for iOS back in December last year.
All this suggests Microsoft wants access to SwiftKey’s teams and the research they’ve been doing towards AI. Even if that doesn’t turn out to be accurate, it’s still in possession of an app which finds takers among both iOS and Android, which should further its agenda of expanding its influence everywhere.