Microsoft’s AI assistant has nearly 80 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market but is moving to lower price tiers in an effort to widen its appeal and catch up to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. (Reuters)

Microsoft has begun selling products with less than half the number of features of its high-end rival, Amazon’s Alexa. A Wall Street analyst reported Friday that Microsoft has begun selling devices without voice assistance, known as Cortana on its artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant, at some online-shopping sites in the United States. The search giant does not list such devices on its website.

The report by Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian comes after Microsoft began offering discounted versions of its Echo speakers and other Alexa-powered devices to consumers, under pressure from rivals that are expanding Alexa’s capabilities.

Microsoft’s AI assistant has nearly 80 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market but is moving to lower price tiers in an effort to widen its appeal and catch up to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

“We believe it has significant headroom to improve, as is evidenced by the persistent state of only a few Cortana-enabled devices being available,” Sebastian wrote.

But “becoming a more significant competitor for Alexa can be difficult given the pace of (Alexa’s) penetration.”

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