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Thread: [Editorial] Could Apple's 'Siri' be More Significant than We Realize?

  1. Editor in Chief
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    [Editorial] Could Apple's 'Siri' be More Significant than We Realize?


    After thinking deeper about Apple's new Voice Search Assistant, "Siri", I wanted to reflect a bit about this new "product" from Apple, and pose a question to the community. First, I'll actually throw the question out there, and then share some thoughts and industry reports that just might change your initial answer to the question. Here's the question: "Could Apple's Voice Search Assitsant, "Siri," that recently came with the iPhone 4S, be more significant than we realize, and pose a threat to Android?"

    When I first heard about Siri, my initial reaction was, that's pretty cool, but... that's just a more refined version of apps that we already had on the Android. In fact, I even found and shared an interesting story in the news section about a group of guys that were able to create their own weak and slightly broken clone of Siri in about eight hours. Overall, it seemed like, case-closed, time to move on to more interesting Android related stuff, right?

    But something kept nagging at the back of my mind. Taking a technological product and making it better, then, even more importantly, marketing it better, has always been Apple's strength. In reality, almost none of Apple's products was an original idea. Their ability to take an existing idea and improve it, then market it in an emotionally satisfying way to consumers is what has made them the powerhouse profit machine that they currently are. Siri, could very well be their next big thing... their next killer app.

    From many of the reports I have read, most iPhone 4S using folks that show off Siri, don't really use it to a great degree other than to demo it to others, so it is possible that it could fade away like many "neato whizz-bang" features throughout the history of technology. However, as Siri is improved and people become more emotionally attached to it, that could change, and create an entirely new way to do searches. I mean, if you extrapolate out the potential, it's not too hard to imagine a future where we no longer need to type any searches and instead simply ask our "Jarvis-like" mobile personal super-computer any bit of info we want. Siri, may not have started the idea, but it could be what pushes it into the mainstream.

    In fact, apparently, I was not the only one thinking about Siri in these terms. A new report from CNet shares that Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, testified before a senate subcommittee that is investigating Google's dominance in Web search recently. He seems to be drawing the same conclusions that I did and had this to say, "Apple's Siri is a significant development--a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search. Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information."

    He further added that some publications have been calling Siri the "entry point" for Apple to get into the search business and become the "Google Killer." Mr. Schmidt further admitted that he was wrong about past statements when he suggested that Apple and Facebook are not strong competitors in the search business. He also said, "The importance of social networking to consumers' online experience has changed remarkably--even over the past year. Consumers are looking for answers when they conduct searches online, and social search has become a serious competitor in helping people find those answers online." Now, obviously some of what he was saying was designed to help bolster Google's defense during the Senate hearings, but that doesn't mean that it isn't valid. It is obviously on his mind so there must be some concern there.

    Still, when you break it all down, what we may be seeing is a new evolution in the way we interface with our technology. Although voice recognition is nothing really very new, all the big companies from Microsoft, to Google, to Apple have been working hard to perfect the idea.

    In the long run, my answer to my own question is: "It may be more significant that we realized, but it is not necessarily more of a threat to Android." Obviously, Siri could be a new avenue for Apple to compete in the technological marketplace, and not just in mobile devices, but in search engine technology as well. However, we don't really think that Google is going to sit on their hands and do nothing about it, do we? In fact, one could argue that Android is simply another step in the evolution of technology. Ultimately, competition in the marketplace causes technology to evolve faster, and as long as companies stay hungry for our business, then technology will continue to evolve and consumers will win.

    Perhaps it is just the eternal optimist in me, but I think that Siri is actually a good thing for consumers and even Google. In the long run it might light a fire under them to make Android, and their other products, even better. Then, pretty soon, we might all be having conversations with our Androids instead of having to type into them.

    How would you answer this question?

    Source: Android.net
    Source for Eric Schmidt's Statements: CNet
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    #2
    Not really, its just a marketing feature that frankly is kind of annoying.

    Wonder what will happen when they speak a question to search and Siri gives the wrong answer. Wonder if they will sue Apple because of it. Since Siri tries to just give an answer instead of show search results, I wouldn't doubt people would try to sue Apple.
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    Some people said that the iPad was just unnecessary when it came out (including me), and look where it is right now

    The fact that pretentious iPhone users can now show off by talking to their phones (since the new 4S looks like the old model), while they are in a crowd, and think they are super cool, it's the main reason why Siri will be kept getting used.

    If everybody uses it, then it loses it's novelty
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    Never had the chance to use it myself, although it sounds just as amazing as Google's similar features. In the end however I highly doubt applications such as these will completely replace manual composition. I'm not a big Star Trek fan but anyone even mildly familiar with the series that had the character Data in it knows that they are far into the future, with many voice activated functionalities and diagnostic instruments. However you notice that Data, and android, still TYPES! Do you really think anyone could ever market an app that would convince a person to say their private text messages aloud? I doubt it. In the end, I believe this kind of voice recognition functionality will find its place, turning on our lights, switching tracks and movies on our home entertainment centers, and other household applications. One other place you will likely see it is in diagnosing hardware and software issues. Past that I doubt it'll catch on as far as composing mail, letters, memos, text messages, etc except maybe a talk and drive feature because as people change, their stubbornness to relinquish their own sense of privacy will not.
    Last edited by Sweettooth; 11-08-2011 at 04:00 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnomaz View Post
    Not really, its just a marketing feature that frankly is kind of annoying.

    Wonder what will happen when they speak a question to search and Siri gives the wrong answer. Wonder if they will sue Apple because of it. Since Siri tries to just give an answer instead of show search results, I wouldn't doubt people would try to sue Apple.
    They would probably have to sue Wolfram|Alpha since that is what Siri is querying for answers (and which is the reason it is so powerful to begin with). I am sure Wolfram|Alpha has something in place to prevent them from being sued for erroneous answers, though.
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    #6
    Shmidt was saying those things because it takes the heat off of google and shows that there is competition, not because he genuinely believes it. If he thought it was an actual threat I doubt he would be making that public knowledge. Despite the fact that I think android is significantly better than ios, I'm not an apple hater. That being said, I find it funny that the whole reason we really have text messaging is so that you don't need to talk to people all the time. Now instead of talking to people, apple users want to have a conversation with their phone. I just don't get it. Even on the application side, the only way its really useful is for hands free purposes, but it doesn't even work really well for that since you still need to look at and touch the screen to get the desired results most of the time. Is it a cool little novelty to mess around with when you're bored. Absolutely, no one can deny that. But in terms of it being actually useful, its going to some time before this technology is actually useful. And by then, who knows who the company will be that actually achieves usefulness out of the product.

    As a funny little aside, my friend shows me his 4S and speaks to Siri "Do I need an umbrella tonight?" And siri gave him the weather and he asked me, "can your phone do that"? I replied with something to the effect of, nah, I just need to look at the widget on my home screen to know what the weather is, I don't need to have a convo with my phone about the weather.
    Last edited by pyro6128; 11-08-2011 at 04:41 PM.
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    #7
    Voice recognition, as pertains to saying texts, making calls, ect. Has been around for a long time And not just in smartphones. I had an lg envy touch that I could tell to "call wife" or have it read me a text. It had its flaws and would mispronounce certain letter combos like "co" (I.e. it would say tory instead of cory or tornhole rather than cornhole) but it was functional. The question is how often do we really use it? And is it something that will change the minds of consumers when purchasing an android or iphone. I personally don't think it will. Android may not have siri but there are a number of apps that use the same technology, they just haven't been marketed like siri. My d2g has speach to text but I have never used it more than to test it when I first got the phone. Maybe I am the only one that prefers to actually type what I want to say rather than deal with an app/program that can do it for me. While siri may be cutting edge in the way it has improved on speach tech it is imo just old tech wrapped in a new improved package. More of a novelty than anything else. Do I think it will bring about an age where we use it to turn on our lights or tv. no. Maybe a good example is "the clapper". A neat idea based on the same principle but more a novelty item than anything really useful. Sure the accuracy of siri may be a step above other voice tech but within 6 mo. Something better will be developed. The question is will it be life changing, is siri life changing, will it really make our lives that much easier? For me the answer is no. When someone creates a device that will do something when I think it, I will be impressed, otherwise it seems like the same thing with a bigger marketing ploy to lure consumers into believing they have the most up to date. soon to be outdated tech.

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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by pyro6128 View Post
    Shmidt was saying those things because it takes the heat off of google and shows that there is competition, not because he genuinely believes it. If he thought it was an actual threat I doubt he would be making that public knowledge. Despite the fact that I think android is significantly better than ios, I'm not an apple hater. That being said, I find it funny that the whole reason we really have text messaging is so that you don't need to talk to people all the time. Now instead of talking to people, apple users want to have a conversation with their phone. I just don't get it. Even on the application side, the only way its really useful is for hands free purposes, but it doesn't even work really well for that since you still need to look at and touch the screen to get the desired results most of the time. Is it a cool little novelty to mess around with when you're bored. Absolutely, no one can deny that. But in terms of it being actually useful, its going to some time before this technology is actually useful. And by then, who knows who the company will be that actually achieves usefulness out of the product.

    As a funny little aside, my friend shows me his 4S and speaks to Siri "Do I need an umbrella tonight?" And siri gave him the weather and he asked me, "can your phone do that"? I replied with something to the effect of, nah, I just need to look at the widget on my home screen to know what the weather is, I don't need to have a convo with my phone about the weather.
    Next time you guys are out somewhere and you want to find a place to eat, open up your voice search and say "Navigate to food", then when google maps pulls up a list of restaurants you can tap on and navigate to, say "can your phone do that? Mine's been able to for the past two years."
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BlacknTan View Post
    Next time you guys are out somewhere and you want to find a place to eat, open up your voice search and say "Navigate to food", then when google maps pulls up a list of restaurants you can tap on and navigate to, say "can your phone do that? Mine's been able to for the past two years."
    so has the iPhone, Siri isn't the first voice activated app they have had, they have had vlingo for longer than Android, Siri is just currently the most advanced.

    I still think it is a niche product though.
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    I said Siri could pose a threat to Google's search, at least in the smartphone (and probably, eventually, tablets - which is significant). But it's not that much more better, really, than many voice features in Android. Where it really hurts Google is the IPhone having 20%+ share, and then you have tablets...

    Yeah, Apple worked wonders making a mostless useless tablet a must-have item. But you look also at facetime - something more powerful and appealing than Siri - and doesn't seem like it's really taken off. I don't know, maybe it's limitations of bandwidth but Skype seems to be far more popular (but still not all that widely used).
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