Thursday, February 4, 2016

Microsoft Acquires Predictive Keyboard Technology Firm Swiftkey

The deal adds additional firepower to its growing arsenal of modern apps technology and artificial intelligence.

Image credit: The Verge
Microsoft is adding another firm to its growing arsenal of mobile technology and modern apps. Microsoft has acquired London-based SwiftKey, maker of a predictive keyboard powered by artificial intelligence that is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones, for a reported $250 million.

The deal follows a string of Microsoft acquisitions of modern apps, which include Acompli, MileIQ, Sunrise, and Wunderlist. 

Founded in 2008 and based in London, SwiftKey is a predictive keyboard technology company. Swiftkey has developed a solid reputation on Android as a replacement keyboard app for phones and tablets, its software keyboard and SDK-powered services are used on more than 300 million Android, as well as iOS-powered  devices. Swiftkey’s keyboard app uses an algorithm to predict what you are trying to type, and what you will want to type next. In addition, Swiftkey also makes money from smartphone makers which use the technology in their keyboards. Swiftkey has offices in London, San Francisco and Seoul, South Korea. 

Harry Shum, executive vice president of technology at Microsoft, said that Microsoft will continue to develop Swiftkey’s keyboard apps for Android and iOS, as well explore options for integrating the core technology with other Microsoft products and services. Most of Swiftkey’s 150-plus employees will join Microsoft Research.  

"Moreover, SwiftKey's predictive technology aligns with Microsoft's investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user's behalf and under their control," Harry Shum said in a statement.

SwiftKey founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock said in a statement that joining Microsoft "is the right next stage in our journey" and added that SwiftKey's apps "will continue to be available on Android and iOS, for free. We are as committed as ever to improving them in new and innovative ways".

Before its deal with Microsoft, SwiftKey has completed a $17.5 million funding round in 2013. Backers include Accel Partners, Index Ventures, and Octopus Investments. 

This acquisition isn't just about the keyboard predictive technology and apps, London-based SwiftKey is built on the sort of artificial intelligence technology that big companies like Microsoft are extremely keen to have in house. Artificial intelligence is getting too much attention these days, and this deal gives Microsoft the shot is looking for.

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