An Interesting Exchange Between Microsoft and Baidu
An interesting exchange took place between two top tech giants – Microsoft and Baidu.
Microsoft offered cloud services to Baidu and in return got an autonomous car!
Yesterday, China’s Baidu announced Microsoft as a partner on its new open-source driving platform that’s called Apollo. Baidu started building this platform using actual data bout autonomous driving from China’s streets, and it expects this car to hit the roads by 2020.
Baidu has been working on this ambitious project for sometime now, as it has opened centers in Singapore and the U.S to collaborate with local partners to build this new platform. According to a spokesperson of the company, Apollo is more an open-source autonomous platform that aims to power the global self-driving industry rather than restrict itself to a small geographic or technological niche.
Microsoft, on the other hand, will be providing the cloud services needed to power this platform. Both companies haven’t said much about the specific services that’ll be used. In fact, a question to Microsoft in this regard was not answered and at this time, it looks like both the companies want to keep the specifics under wraps.
Nevertheless, this move by Microsoft is a smart one, according to analysts. Since autonomous driving is likely to be the future of our roads, it makes sense for Microsoft to get on it at the earliest. Instead of focusing on building its own cars, this company is doing what it knows best, which is to provide the technology that can drive these cars.
Already, Microsoft has partnered with companies like Ford to power thier infotainment system called SYNC. Currently, this is running in about five million cars and over the next few years, it is expected to double. This product uses Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive to create unique in-car experiences for automobile owners and drivers. To take this idea to the next level, Microsoft has entered into this agreement with Baidu.
This is a sensible move on the economic front too because China is a big market for automobiles, and getting a firm foothold in it early can give a big market lead for Microsoft. of course, in China, no foreign company can go alone. Rather, they have to tie up with local Chinese companies to reach the market and that’s exactly what Microsoft has also done.
The good part about this deal is that Baidu started exploring this option only in April of this year, which means, there’s room for a solid partnership and growth for both Microsoft and Baidu. When the self-driving car industry matures, both these companies would be in the driver’s seat to tap into the opportunities and the exploding revenue expected from it.
For all these reasons, it’s a smart move by Microsoft to enter into a deal with Baidu. Let’s hope this translates into a fruitful venture for both these companies and for the eager customers and self-driving industry as a whole.