The five biggest technology companies in the Western world are each competing to create their own virtual assistants; your personal guides to help navigate the digital world.
Facebook recently announced a concierge service called “M“ through its Messenger app, and most people have already played with Apple’s Siri (which got a big upgrade last week for the new Apple TV).
Add to that Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon, which has the Echo – a voice-activated living-room device that can control the ambience of your home – and the stage is set for a showdown.
You will be asking your Siri or Cortana to order food, book flights, make restaurant bookings, call a cab, have your car repaired, call Ryanair customer service and buy everything. It’s the super-charged, super-lucrative Search 2.0.
What this means in practice is that services will become proactive: your virtual assistant learns more about you and it will start to tell you what you need, without you having to ask.
So what’s in it for the companies?
Eventually, the virtual assistant that wins – and the company behind it – will know you better than you know yourself, so you can’t live life without it. That’s the ultimate prize.