If you have been following the Mycroft.ai project, you may have been disappointed to see the recent email this week, including the announcement that the company will be shutting down…
In this review email he goes over the challenges of the company including just having three developers for the company, a not so full featured classic-core version and a very experimental next-gen version, and the fact that they could not achieve the “sales target of 1000-2000 units per month” to keep the company afloat.
The sad thing about this project is that compared to the minimal market share of this great open source system, Amazon Alexa’s millions of sales per year and and estimated 1/4 of the US population may be using Google Voice Assistant. The difficulty of voice interfaces and Zipf’s law regarding the difficulty of a new service to gain traction compared to the well-used, well established products, must have made this very difficult. Worse, it would appear that purchasing a device that runs on open source and privacy honoring software is not a feature that is considered very valuable to consumers.
In the final paragraph Michael Lewis does give some hope for the community project after the company shutters:
- “We have a solid hardware platform and we’ve largely resolved the uncertainty around the patent infringement claims.”
- “We have enlisted the assistance of Neon Gecko, a long-time partner of Mycroft, to moderate source-code contributions from the community. This will ensure that the existing code base that is most useful to its users will continue being a living, evolving resource without Mycroft expending resources on it directly.”
- “Due to significant layoffs at major tech companies there hasn’t been a better time to hire machine learning experts in the field of voice for many years.”
- “We’ve written the roadmap for revenue-generating online services and have a plan for developing those with a focus on opportunities that can be quickly tried and iterated.”
- “And finally, no other voice assistant company has emerged that satisfies the privacy prerequisites for building a trustworthy personal digital assistant that will give us mere humans a chance of being relevant in our increasingly AI-dominated future, or protection from the surveillance-capitalism based tech giants and increasingly authoritarian-leaning governments, or, well … privacy.”