Daily Management Review

British Keyboard Apps Firm SwiftKey Bought by Microsoft for $250 Million


British Keyboard Apps Firm SwiftKey Bought by Microsoft for $250 Million
Promising that it will continue to develop the company’s Android and iOS keyboard apps, Microsoft has acquired British apps firm SwiftKey for a reported $250 million (£173.2 million).
Shortly it was first reported in the Financial Times, both the companies Microsoft and SwiftKey confirmed the acquisition in blogposts.
SwiftKey’s software, which replaces the default on-screen keyboard for smartphones and tablets has been installed on more than 300 million Android and iOS devices revealed Microsoft in its blogpost.
Two Cambridge graduates founded SwiftKey in August 2008. In the initial years, the rise of post-iPhone success of Android was the perfect setting for the company to capitalize the opportunity.
When SwiftKey launched apps for Apple’s iOS devices in 2014,  third-party keyboard apps were banned from such devices. SwiftKey’s app had been launched for Android devices in 2010.
Market analysts say that the SwiftKey app was among the most popular keyboard apps on both iOS and Android. It was around 2014 that the company started offering in-app payments for new keyboard themes in place of selling its app.

The primary reason for the company offering its main feature — a swipeable keyboard — as a default option on many phones was that the operations of the company were financially not as successful as it had hoped.
SwiftKey’s revenues fell from £9.88m in 2013 to £8.41m in 2014 which were revealed from the company’s last financial results that were filed through Companies House in the UK by its parent company TouchType Limited.

While reporting a loss of £5.32 million in 2014, the company had reported a net profit of £103,000 a year earlier. The decision of the company to switch to a “freemium” business model where the initial download of its app was free is said to be the primary reason for the fall in turnover of SwiftKey.
“We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio,” said Microsoft’s executive vice-president of technology and research Harry Shum while announcing the acquisition.
 “Our 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,” SwiftKey founders Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock said in their own blogpost.
The predictive-text technology that powers the app is more appealing for Microsoft compared to the slick keyboard-replacement app. Microsoft intends to integrate the app with its own WordFlow tool.  
In line with the Microsoft acquisitions of apps companies, SwiftKey is the latest in the series. Developers of email app Acompli, calendar app Sunrise, productivity app Wunderlist and business communications app Talko, among others were bought by Microsoft since 2014.

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