Microsoft has confirmed that it has agreed to buy London-based Swiftkey. Shortly after, the popular AI based Android keyboard was swift to confirm that it would be joining the Microsoft family. The deal is reported to be worth $250m, although financial terms were not disclosed by either company.
Swiftkey was started in 2008 by co-founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock. The two have grown the company into a monster both on Android and iOS, after taking in only $20m in funding over the course of the company’s lifetime, a relatively small amount. The co-founders, who own “substantial minority stakes” will each make about $30m each.
[blockquote author=”Harry Shum, Microsoft”]This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We believe that together we can achieve orders of magnitude greater scale than either of us could have achieved independently.[/blockquote]
While Swiftkey is huge among third party keyboards on iOS and Android, it’s not currently available on Windows phones. The Windows first party keyboard does emulate some of the same features, but it’s now seemingly inevitable that Swiftkey will be a big part of Windows going forward.
Already installed on 300m devices worldwide, Swiftkey has continued to innovate despite the lack of a solid business model. Swiftkey Neural, which is currently in Alpha, “is an experimental keyboard app that uses artificial neural networks to predict and correct your typing.” The company has also developed a language model that helps astrophysicist Stephen Hawking communicate.
There’s no word on how this will affect the Android application and keyboard in the short term, but this is another in a long list of acquisitions from Microsoft, many of them Android apps. In a little over a year, Microsoft has purchased Wunderlist, Acompli, and Sunrise.
I’m personally a user of Sunrise, and I’ve seen nothing but positive things from the app since the Microsoft purchase. The app still continues to work perfectly and new features like subscribable interesting calendars have been expanded.
While this isn’t concrete proof of the future of Swiftkey, it’s hard to believe that Microsoft would do anything to alienate its largest group of users, Android phone owners.