Why Google and Microsoft Hate Siri

by Tim Bajarin   |   October 24th, 2011

As I watched Andy Rubin’s interview at the WSJ D Asia conference I became highly intrigued by the comments he made about Apple’s Siri. Rubin told Walt Mossberg “ I don’t believe your phone should be an assistant…Your phone is a tool for communicating,” he said, “You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.” (

Here is a link to the interview if you haven’t seen it.

And then Microsoft’s Andy Lees, when questioned about Siri said it “isn’t super useful.” At the same time, he noted that Windows Phone 7 has a degree of voice interactivity in the way it connects to Bing, and thus harnesses “the full power of the internet, rather than a certain subset.”

What are these two guys smoking? They both seem to miss the fact that Apple has just introduced voice as a major user interface and that its use of voice coupled with AI on a consumer product like the iPhone is going to change the way consumers think about man-machine interfaces in the future. I wrote about its impact on future UI’s last week and believe that it is just the start of something big.

I have two theories about their response. One is based on jealously and one that is future driven, based on what Siri really will become very soon and its ultimate threat to their businesses. The first has to do with the fact that both companies have had major voice UI technology in the works in their labs for a long time. In the case of Microsoft I was first shown some of their voice research back in 1992. In Google’s case people in the know have told me that they have had a similar project in development for over 7 years. And in both cases they are way–way behind Apple–especially in Siri’s AI capabilities and speech comprehension technology.

Interestingly, for even Apple it has taken a long time to get their voice technology working correctly. In fact, in the early 1990’s, I spent some time with Kaifu Li when he was at Apple working on a speech and voice recognition technology called Plain Talk. At the time, he was considered one of the major minds on this subject and when, after a short stint at Silicon Graphics, he joined Microsoft, one of his key projects was working on speech technology for them. Of course, if you know about Kaifu Li, you know that he left Microsoft to go to Google and was the subject of a major lawsuit between Microsoft and Google because Microsoft thought he would disclose to Google too much of what Microsoft was doing when he joined Google.

Microsoft and Google, especially since they had the mind of Kaifu Li working on various projects while he was at these companies, cannot be too pleased that Apple was the one to actually harness voice and speech comprehension ahead of them since both have been working on similar technologies for quite some time. You can bet that if they were the one’s announcing a breakthrough voice technology they would be touting it as loud as possible. Instead they are downplaying it and to be honest, making real fools of themselves and their companies in the process.

But the real reason these two companies hate Siri is because of what it will become in the very near future. In case you haven’t noticed it yet, Siri’s voice technology is actually a front to some major databases, such as Yelp, Wolfram Alpha and Siri’s own very broad database. But what it is really doing is serving as the entry point for searching these databases. So, I can ask Siri to find me the closest pizza joint and it quickly links me to Yelp, then to Google maps. On the surface this might look good for Google and Yelp since it ties them to these third-party sites that get the advertising revenue from this search. But what if Apple owned their own restaurant recommendation service and mapping system? They could divert all of these ad revenues to themselves. Here is an obvious prediction then if that is the case. How long do you think it is before Apple buys Yelp or Open Table and MapQuest or a similar available mapping service?

How about searching for autos? Ask Siri where the closest BMW dealers are. It comes back and shows you the three or four BMW dealers within a 25 mile radius on a Google Map. But what if it could also tie you to Edmund’s database and instantly give you ratings of their cars, and dealers running specials? Or perhaps you are looking for an apartment in Hoboken? Ask Siri about available apartments in Hoboken and someday it could perhaps link you to Apartment Finder and while they might not need to own this database, Apartment finder would be Siri’s preferred first site to “search” for apartments and Apple would get a share in ad revenue from these searches.

Indeed, it is pretty clear to me that Apple has just scratched the surface of the role Siri will play for them in driving future revenue. At the moment, we are enamored with its ability to enhance the man-machine interface. But that is just the start. Siri is actually on track to become the first point of entrance to “search” engines of all types tied to major databases throughout the world. And it will become the gatekeeper to all types of searches and in the end control what search engine it goes to for its answers.

For this to work for Apple, they need to start acquiring or at least developing tighter revenue related partnerships with existing databases for all types of products and services. And then make Google or Bing the search engine of last resort for Siri to use if can’t find it in its own or its partner’s databases at Apple’s disposal. Oh yeah, and tie all of these searches to their own ad engine and drive as much of Siri’s “search” to one’s they have a revenue share deal with or own.

Yes, Siri is an important product for enhancing our user interface with the iPhone. But Siri is in its infancy. When it grows up, it will be the front end to all types of searches conducted on iPhones, iPads, Mac’s and even Apple TV. And, if I were Google or Microsoft, perhaps I too would be playing down the impact of Siri since they know full well that it is not just a threat to their product platforms, but to their core businesses of search as well. In fact, they should be quaking in their boots since Apple is taking aim at their cash cow search businesses with their technology and could very well impact their fortunes dramatically in the future.

For Apple’s investors, the call for them to start paying dividends on their cash hoard is too short-sighted. Instead, they should be encouraging Apple to start buying up as many databases and services they can and begin the process of entrenching Siri’s role as the first line of offense when searching for a product and service and get the search ad revenue from this for themselves. I believe that if they do this, they could probably add another $3-$5 billion in quarterly revenue to their already healthy business model within three years, as search becomes another profit center for Apple.

So, don’t think of Siri as just a voice UI. Rather, think of it as the gatekeeper to natural language searching of diverse databases and search engines that Apple will link to an ad model that I believe will eventually make Apple the third major search company in the world someday.

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.
  • http://twitter.com/bendemes Ben

    Interesting post. I remain unconvinced by Siri myself. Its voice recognition seems worse than Google voice. I also remain unconvinced about talking to your technology in general. There are to many enviroments where using talk commands would be inappropriate. As to Siri being a gateway for search for users I can see this being true for iOS and maybe OSX but it will not have any effect on people using Windows desktops and Android/Windows Phones.

    • http://twitter.com/bendemes Ben

      Oh and the reason I might grow to hate Siri is because there will be a group of users out there that do use it in places they shouldn’t! I expecting people yelling commands at their phones on the train or in the office which will not please me at all!

      • Yacko

        “There are to many enviroments where using talk commands would be inappropriate. ”

        “I expecting people yelling commands at their phones on the train or in the office which will not please me at all!”

        Not if you are holding the phone to your face as if making a call. Or at least no less than current annoyances.

      • GeorgeS

        Ben, I realize that you’re very, very special and that your likes and dislikes should rule the world, but consider that some things YOU do might irritate other people. Do you wear a Bluetooth headset and talk to yourself? How is that different from talking to Siri? Do you talk on the phone while you’re driving? (I was involved in an accident several years back where the other driver was talking on a phone while driving in a parking lot.) Your tastes in music might irritate others, as might your political or religious opinions (especially if expressed loudly, unasked).

      • Anonymous

        I am unconvinced by your presumptive complaint.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. The accuracy of the Google Voice Search system is underrated.

      • http://twitter.com/Teco Terence Reis

        Google Voice recognition system is awesome and does a lot of languages right now. I’d say it’s on a pair with Nuance (Siri’s tech for voice recognition) and has the advantage of more languages.

        But Siri is not about the voice, but about the AI.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not sure ether of what you said is true. I remember Google Recognition being English only, but maybe they have extended that now, but regardless, in english Siri/nuance seems to be more accurate for me. I guess it is time for a shoot out with recorded voices. Get a phrase spoken by 10 different people recorded then use that to check the dictation ability of each system and see who wins!

        • ST

          Strange that tech interested people seem to not have a clue of the difference between voice recognition + commands and AI.

          Recognizing commands is not an AI problem. The first (very simple) step towards AI is context awareness. AI is a problem of logic and logical systems. Voice commands is not this kind of problem.
          This is the difference between Siri and other voice commands systems.

    • Anonymous

      Does this matter as Windows and (eventually) Android sink into relative obscurity?
      May I say that I am ‘unconvinced’ by your arguments.

  • Rich

    Andy Rubin’s comment sounds like it came from desperation.

    • Cabiofuel

      desperation about what? Don’t hate. How many people use google voice? that’s like listening to people say google video is better tha YouTube. The better technology doesn’t always win.

      • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

        I don’t know a single person that uses Google Voice.

        • http://gplus.to/FaustsHausUK Dale P

          I have a Google Voice number, and I use it to screen calls and texts – lots of companies seem to like selling my contact details to third parties, so I am selective about who gets my *real* number.

      • Anonymous

        Why does Rich’s comment equate to hate? It is a perfectly valid interpretation of Rubin’s response and Rich is probably correct in his assessment.
        Rubin will have spoken from fear and desperation, because he knows that Google has no quick defence against Siri and that this means a future trend of Google losing its grip on its franchise and seeing it massively diluted.
        Potential dilution or loss of a franchise is certainly cause for some fear and desperation at the lack of defensive solutions.
        What is more, the world is learning about Google’s dangerous business practices and it is also learning that Apple’s focus on customer-centricity means they may advertise to customers as a result of a Siri query, but they would never sell the enquiring customer’s personal details to anyone.
        Dastardly Desperation.

      • Chris Lewis

        It’s not about hate, it’s about realism. If Apple controls the interface, how will Google present the ads that fund its operations? If iPhones attract users because they facilitate uses Rubin’s product can’t support, his unit sales will reflect that fact.

        This is all about the Benjamins.

  • Joe

    You’re missing a very important point – particularly with respect to Google.

    Google makes their money by mining your information. Every time you do a search, they gather additional information about you which allows them to sell more ads. If Siri is the one doing the search, Google gets nothing – even if Siri contacts Google for the answer. So Google will be answering questions but not getting their payoff. THAT is what Google is scared of.

    • Yacko

      I think that’s the point, Siri bypassing Google search 95+ percent of the time. Also could Siri anonymize you from Google’s searches? Google would then have the largest dynamic database on the likes and dislikes of Siri, which would be schizo and useless.

      • Chris

        So I should make it a point to always initiate my web searches with Siri, I guess.

      • Anonymous

        of course it would be an anonymised search. Where is there scope for leakage of user data. A totally anonymous avatar token would suffice for search.

    • Anonymous

      and Siri will get all of the spam…

    • Drew Nusser

      Not to sound like a hater, because Siri IS cool, but do you guys really think that Google is scared? The only thing that changed is that their free search engine is now a hidden feature inside of an app on about 1/6 of the smart phones in the world. If Siri goes to all Macs, then it is 1/6 of the smart phones and less than 1/10 of the computers. Even in this small number of devices, Siri isn’t going to be used every time someone makes a search. Do you think people are going to abandon their browsers completely? Maybe I’m just naive, but I don’t know why people assume Google is scared about it.

      • Andre Richards

        iPhone users account for a higher amount of web traffic on the Internet. It’s not all about market share. It’s about who’s out there and who’s actually using these things. At the moment, iOS is the dominant market in mobile, from the perspective of Internet traffic. And since mobile is growing at an insane pace and Android was all about Google staying in control in the mobile arena, you can bet your butt they’re scared–or at least very, very nervous. Siri presents them with some serious problems in maintaining control of search in mobile.

        • Julesqkennedy

          Siri, or any voice activated interface for that matter, will never completely replace keyboard entry because there are a lot of situations where it would be uncomfortable or inappropriate to be talking to a computer. How would you like to broadcast to everyone your text messages or emails? Not me. Now maybe if they could make Siri recognize whispers!

          • Anonymous

            It already does. Have you tried it with the (included) headphones? If you have the mic right next to your mouth, you really don’t need to talk very loud at all.

      • Anonymous

        How many businesses do you know that would be jumping for joy at the prospect of losing 16+ % of their business all of a sudden?
        Secondly, Apple’s share of market in terms of users is growing fast. Just wait and take a look at how many new iOS users announces in the January conference call.
        Apple’s market share is on the rise and the rate of increase is accelerating now.

  • Eaglejackson

    In addition, Microsoft bought Tellme, which developed a voice UI for the phone, but decided to put Tellme aside and focus on touch UI instead. Tellme had a five year lead that could have been Microsoft’s.

    • http://twitter.com/Bajarin Bajarin

      I agree..I used TellMe before they bought it and it was great..amazing that they did not really see its potential..

    • Guest

      Microsoft is using Tellme today:
      http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/tellme

    • Spike Ennis

      And that is why Microsoft is so far in the hole and going deeper. They just cannot see beyond their current step.

      OH, and needing to monitize everything….. “Oh yeah, and tie all of these searches to their own ad engine and drive as much of Siri’s “search” to one’s they have a revenue share deal with or own.”

      Its a different focus and Siri will be very hard to copy since its software, mostly residing on Apple servers… Just a thought,
      en

  • james Katt

    Siri is a huge threat to Google.

    Siri is a voice interface. There is no room for ads in a voice interface. Thus Siri destroy’s Google’s income and business model – selling ads.

    Further, since Siri is doing the searching, Google also loses the commodity it sells to its customers: your personal information. Google further loses income from Siri.

    And, since Siri is doing the searching, Siri takes away eyeballs from Google. Siri can search Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. and create a list of the results. You won’t even need to know that Google exists. Once Apple has its own mapping app that is independent of Google, even location searches won’t have Google’s name displayed. Siri makes Google disappear from the sight and minds of Apple’s customers.

    Siri is a HUGE THREAT to Google. Siri makes Google DISAPPEAR.

    • http://twitter.com/Teco Terence Reis

      It would make Google disappear if iPhone users = Google users. It’s more like a small subset now. And quite small while we’re at it – 2b internet users, Google has some 2/3 of it, so it’s like 1.6 billion Google users against 100M iPhone, max? So well, hm, not quite the case.

      • Anonymous

        Actually, there are 250 million iOS users out there (only 17 million iPhones were sold in the first 2 years so the majority would still be in use). Do you really think Apple won’t roll Siri out with new iPad and iPod touch models in the future (and in fact possibly to existing iPad 2 users considering it has more CPU horsepower than the iPhone 4s)

        That is a quarter of a billion potential Siri users. Doesn’t sound quite so small a number now does it?

        • Anonymous

          250M and then some when you factor in the eventual arrival of Siri on Macs.

          • http://twitter.com/jackschofield Jack Schofield

            But there are only about 60 million Macs, so that doesn’t make a significant difference compared with 1.6 billion Google users. And for comercial rather than technical reasons, Siri is iPhone 4S only, not all of iOS, so the actual total is barely a rounding error.

          • Anonymous

            Funny that it’s already affecting Google’s search numbers though, huh? And are you so sure that the mobile market is not more important than the DESKTOP market? (Where people are on out on their way to you know, BUY something?)

            iPhone is the key to the mobile market, not Android. Android is for those who think they can’t afford an iPhone (when in fact, it’s the same price, minus the bonus handset for your sock drawer.)

    • http://gplus.to/FaustsHausUK Dale P

      Well, there is a way to force Siri to speak out ads in between giving you answers, but it would be an utterly terrible experience for users. Apple is all about users above all else.

      • Anonymous

        Agreed.
        And Steve Jobs once described ads that intrude into a user’s personal UX as ‘noise’, which it surely is.

      • Sepa

        Apple is all about users? Hahaha. Apple is all about revenue generation, directing you to its own marketing avenues.

  • Anonymous

    Siri is certainly intriguing – but it’s still a beta. the big questions are:

    - how much and how quickly will Apple advance its abilities?
    - in particular, will/when Apple open it up to third party apps?

    and on the other side:

    - do Google and the rest have the technology to offer comparable advanced AI support at all (not mere voice commands)?

    judging from Rubin’s reaction, the answer to this question is “not now.” but … Apple has given him a template to copy. we’ll see how long that takes.

    • Anonymous

      But IP Robber Rubin wasn’t working at Apple at the time Siri was being discussed/acquired/finessed. He was not in a position to copy the code and take it away (he he).

  • http://twitter.com/Teco Terence Reis

    While you raise points that are valid, some things are missing:

    - Siri was NOT developed by Apple, so it’s not a case of jealousy for Apple all of a sudden doing something so great. More like: why haven’t we acquired this before them?

    - Siri is a spin-off from SRI Ventures – http://sri.com/about/spin.html – financed by DARPA.

    - By the way, so it’s Nuance.

    - Siri is NOT a voice technology, but an AI module. This is what’s big for Apple.

    - Nuance is the voice technology behind Siri. Just in case, they’re not attached to Apple. So if Google and MSFT want great voice recognition, just hire them. As a matter of fact, Google has once eyed Nuance and MSFT has a partnership with them in a few other areas.

    - Siri app = Nuance (unconfirmed but unlikely that it’s not) + Siri AI Module

    - All Siri processing is done on Apple’s servers. Think of all the aggregated knowledge. And improvement on it.

    - So yes, Siri is way more than voice input. But it’s more than the gatekeeper for natural language search. This is too little. It’s the gatekeeper for a gazillion bytes of usage behaviour, interests and patterns.

    • GeorgeS

      “Nuance is the voice technology behind Siri. Just in case, they’re not attached to Apple.”

      Yet.

    • Andre Richards

      “Siri was NOT developed by Apple, so it’s not a case of jealousy…”

      Wrong. Siri’s development was started outside of Apple, but Apple continued refining and adding features and integrating it into iOS. The pre-Apple Siri was nothing like the software you see in the iPhone 4S.

      “Siri is a spin-off[...] financed by DARPA.”

      So is the Internet. What’s your point? Does DARPA now get credit for every Website ever made?

      “Nuance is the voice technology behind Siri. Just in case, they’re not attached to Apple. So if Google and MSFT want great voice recognition, just hire them. As a matter of fact, Google has once eyed Nuance and MSFT has a partnership with them in a few other areas.”

      The guys at Nuance have already said they’ve rejected these kinds of offers. Apple was trying to buy them but they refused. They want to be their own company, so any effort on Google or MS’s part to buy them out would be useless.

      • Anonymous

        Nuance is a public company. They could be bought even without wishing to be bought.

        • Roger A.

          Which would be a hostile takeover which means the talent (the true assets) would be free to walk, at which point Apple could lure them into their ranks for a fraction of the cost of a full buyout. Neither Google nor Microsoft would be stupid enough to do that. I think.

    • Anonymous

      Oh yes!
      When you’re right. You’re rrrrrrrightttttt!

  • Devonjamestysonn

    In my opinion the iPhone and iOS is way better than Android and Windows Phone! Just saying!

  • Anonymous

    Luckily, people who work on SEO won’t have to change their acronym.

  • http://twitter.com/sfcopywriter Star Zagofsky

    Maybe Google and Microsoft should read my latest blog post: 3 Lessons Siri Can Teach You About Marketing http://blog.sfcopywriter.com/2011/10/25/3-lessons-siri-can-teach-you-about-marketing/

    Maybe if they learned from Siri, they wouldn’t hate her so much!

  • Spike Ennis

    Good article except I think you missed the concept of Apple.

    “Indeed, it is pretty clear to me that Apple has just scratched the surface of the role Siri will play for them in driving future revenue. ” and
    “Oh yeah, and tie all of these searches to their own ad engine and drive as much of Siri’s “search” to one’s they have a revenue share deal with or own.”

    My problem here is the tendency to try and make Apple another microsoft… LETS MONITIZE EVERYTHING…. Apple is not out to make a quick buck. A great product that sells well,,, sure, but just doing something cause it makes a quick buck now but produces crap…. well its just not Apple.

    Just a thought,
    en

    • Eric Sterling

      So are you saying google was just out to make a quick buck?

      • Anonymous

        Google’s business model depends on advertising. Period. Apple’s depends on selling hardware, which they have kept ad free on their part. They will use Siri to sell more hardware, not to monetize it through advertising. I think “quick buck” is a loaded, pejorative phrase.

        What is true is Google == ads; Apple == no ads. Apple only sells advertising as a way to support 3rd party developers, whose continued support will sell more Apple hardware — Apple will never use ads as a primary revenue stream.

        • Secular Investor

          You miss the point about Siri advertising.

          In most cases it will not be an annoying intrusion but a reply to a consumer request for specific goods or services e.g. ask for italian restaurants in your location and the consumer wants to see the result! Make a booking and that is a service the restaurant will be willing to pay for.

      • Alex554

        I think “quick buck” is a much simplified view, but not entirely incorrect. I think it would be more accurate to say that Google’s technology is one route by which they moneylenders planned to make a ton more money. Was it just coincidence that Youtube got a boatload of VC money from the same investors as Google did, for a business which could not possibly survive on its own, and was then acquired by Google? A lot of these startups are acting like pawns of Sequoia — so they’d better make a buck soon enough because that’s why they’re there!

        True, Apple was also a Sequoia venture, too, but the VC landscape was very different in 1978 than 1999. I don’t think they were thinking about funding companies with the intent to merge them out of debt back then.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Viviana-Wong/1143684734 Viviana Wong

      Even though Apple is not into monetizing ads, it could still siphon these searches away from either Google or Microsoft and therefore cut into their ad revenues. Siri is really getting people excited about the new iPhone and I would not be surprised if a sizable number of Android users will cross over and ditch their phones in favor of the 4S.

  • Andre Richards

    Google is so old-hat at this point. They just look old and tired. It’s almost sad how far behind they’ve fallen but not surprising given how thinly they’ve spread their resources. Trying to conquer too many markets. They do a lot of things, but increasingly, they’re doing them poorly.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with spike ennis: while Steve Jobs was away from Apple, it had become a company focused on profits. It almost died from that “success”! When Steve Jobs returned, he turned the company upside down, putting insanely great products ahead of profits. If Siri grows into a cash cow for apple, it won’t be on purpose, but as a result of making the iPhone increasingly great for the consumer, not the bottom line.

  • Anonymous

    This is the first article about Siri that discovered the real benefits of Siri as the hub for something a lot bigger, Siri could eventually erase Google search business from the iOS platform and Google should be afraid of that right now and Microsoft? They have too much problems with Bing, so if Apple plays its cards the way I believe Steve instructed, Google is in real problems, Steve will return Google the favor, it will enter into the Search Business, but not with a search engine of its own, but with a conglomerate of specialized micro search engines + Placebase for mapping and Apple location based technology. The perfect gift for Google and Android.

    • Anonymous

      I like Tim’s idea on the creation of new databases to add to the existing specialist resources. I like your idea too.
      Google is very good but it is compromised the integrity of its search business among users who care about such things by ranking the results to favour their interests, not the user’s.
      A new industry of database search businesses that specialise in specific areas of interest but also collaborate with each other and with Apple, on Siri, will provide a better search resource than Google does and do so with no manipulation of the results….if Siri remains the gatekeeper and a key agent providing them with hits.
      No single company should monopolise Search because the temptations to corruption are too easy to implement and too rich to ignore.

    • tdrake

      Not precisely the first widely circulated article http://fabiandesimone.com/siri-apple-trojan-horse/, but maybe the most read.

  • Anonymous

    i really doubt that Apple wants to be in the search business. What information are they gathering? Do you really think Apple is going to start indexing websites? They can barely do iAds correctly. They PRIDE themselves on having DIRECT negotiations with their customers. Apple Store, Itunes, etc–all for the sake of direct sales.

    Search Engines are all about the indirect sell. The users are the information. The ads are the products, and Businesses are the customers. Serving Enterprise is not (yet) an Apple strength.

    But I agree that Google(msft is a non-entity) hates Siri. I mean, they have to accept Siri searches but proxied data is not as profitable. Directed ads to a gigantic blob called Siri? Try selling those impressions to Armani or Rolex Inc.

    But the fact that Siri uses any Search Database–as specified by the user–creates an almost component/supplier dependency. With Apple in the Driver Seat. If Google or Wolfram doesn’t want to supply the database, i’m pretty sure someones else will.

    I

    • Anonymous

      You sound like a disappointed idealist.
      Search is about getting answers. Monetising it is business.
      Google would not be a viable business if it did not monetise Search. Search is all it has that can bring in money. Take away the ads business, and you have a bankrupt company.
      Apple can do search. Apple must do Search because it is the killer app with enduring demand in perpetuity. The difference is that Apple doesn’t need to monetise Search in an in-your-face intrusive way (as Google does) because EVERY thing else that Apple does makes them mountains of money. They can monetise Siri by receiving royalties or other usage fees from Search businesses that Siri utilises. The important thing for me is that I trust that Apple will play fair with all parties in a Search and it will never sell my information to anyone.

  • james Katt

    Siri is great as a front-end for Google because it doesn’t show Google’s ads. Of course, this destroys Google’s revenue. But who cares about Google’s revenue. We just want the search results.

    Apple won’t need to show ads on Siri – and it would be in poor taste to do so. It just wants us to keep buying Apple hardware.

  • Alex554

    Siri seems kind of like voice-activated “Sherlock”. For every reason given here for Siri which doesn’t involve the word “voice”, it could also be a reason for Google/Microsoft to have been scared of Sherlock — but they never were.

    The only really new part is the voice. Is that a big enough sell to cancel out all of Google’s advantages? I’ve played with Siri a bit, and it’s good, but it’s not great. It’s certainly not better (faster or more accurate) than a good Google search. It can be better in a few specific tasks, if you like talking to a computer and hoping it understands you. Based on all the pages on the internet telling us how to escape phone menu systems, I would say that most of us don’t find that a big advantage.

    If Google sees that people really just want an easier interface to common tasks like Yelp, Alpha, Wikipedia, and so on, they could add some NLP and weight those things higher in search results — they already do, to some extent — or even come out with a new mobile app for this sort of thing. I don’t see anything Google can’t do here: they’ve shown to be among the best at processing data, and at search. The only thing they’re not so good at is design, but they’ve shown they have no problem ‘borrowing’ the best design ideas from their competitors.

    Siri is very cool, but (and I say this as an Apple user) the top use seems to be “show it off in front of Android users”.

    • Anonymous

      Lightweight nonsense.

    • Anonymous

      Goog can’t imitate Siri, and if they did, they would lose revenue. Checkmate.

  • http://twitter.com/beno1604 Michel

    If you really think Apple will want to shove ads in your face you haven’t really been paying attention.

  • Grammar Crank

    Time for a new copy editor:

    “…if they were the one’s [sic] announcing…”

    “…searches conducted on iPhones, iPads, Mac’s [sic] and even Apple TV.”

    • jeff

      “Mac’s” is an appropriate use of the apostrophe. In this case it substitutes for the missing letters that would be needed to write Macintoshes.

      Maybe you received a C in copy editing rather than an A.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone know when Apple acquired Siri/Nuance? I’d like to see whether the acquistion lines up with Jobs’ famous speech about how Google got into the phone business and Apple didn’t get into Search. I wonder if Siri was the way for Apple to hurt Google’s core-business without actually getting into that business.

    • Anonymous

      Hold on, I’ll ask Siri about that… LOL

  • Anonymous

    I wrote about this recently as well, but I think they also miss the boat by not realizing how much people want to have a relationship with their stuff (we love anthropomorphizing) and this just hijacks all of the neuronal circuits we humans have, to create that emotional engagement…Siri is the perfect assistant who does your chores without needing anything back.

  • jsolin

    Tim,

    This is an exceptional article and very thought provoking. Hope you don’t mind the cited and linked re-post on my blog.

    Joseph S. Solin

    http://www.siri-news.com

    Apple Siri news, tips, tricks, and hacks. Now available on the iPhone 4s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TimCISmajorWright Timothy Wright

    I would like to say that, Apple didnt event siri or the technology that runs siri….they purchased the company that created this software. This is what apple does. they purchase tech from other companies and call it innovation by apple. I would be impressed if Apple created siri but they didnt so um yea NOT IMPRESSED..

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  • Bryan

    I have bean using google voice search and google places for almost two years. Siris is only better in terms of understanding plain english. But the internet datbases and voice connecting is old tech. Google and bing shoul cut off aplle from there search databases if they feal threatened or simple improve google droid voice search. Im really getting sick of Apple claiming first in things that have been around for years.

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  • Dmstar1981

    Doesnt really matter cause the iphone is far behind on tech that does matter its funny how apple uses small difference to blind simple minded people, by the way I have used HTC products way before apple even made a phone and could not possibly live without it

  • Dmstar1981

    Oh n may add the will have problem making since Samsung wont make the hardware for them anymore they don’t make thier own stuff they just claim they did

  • zingwah

    Tim, you sound so shocked, ask what are they smoking, yet miss the boat about what importance apple plays (or doesn’t) with the technology. Like most other apple worshipers, falling into the category of people taken by delusions created by apple’s push for hypnosis in advertising. Weak, tech wannabe’s who bought into the myth that apple is the center of all innovation (which apple wanted you to believe). Now that most people believe that, they automatically think apple is wonderful, and defend everything they say. The fact is Microsoft, Not Apple, had more to do with it’s origins. Why didn’t crowds of people go Gaga over MS’s input on the subject over two decades ago? Because they had not been brainwashed. MS was not trying to brain wash anyone. In fact they had the worst marketing team in the world. Apple who was failing to sell computers that most didn’t want, had to find a way to promote their inferior products. One way was to dupe less technical minds into believing they were the best. And that worked. Now two decades later, idiots run rampant on the internet, defending Apple, much as an army of aliens defends it’s mother ship. Each an unconscious “worker ant”, on a mission to protect apple.

    That said, apple has not brought much of anything new here. Just because it adds an existing technology to it’s phone shouldn’t be the trigger for sudden hysteria over it. And I can back up what I’m saying. For example, when Apple added touch screen to cell phones, people went nuts over it. It was one of the prime motivators to make the iphone successful. And I can almost hear all the apple fans, drooling, like pavlov’s dogs, raising there hands going, “Oooh, but it was amazing when they did that!”. My point is it’s not THAT amazing. OK, then what happened when Garmin, GPS makers put touch screen into their GPS line, years before the iphone came out?? Why weren’t these same fans that drooled over the iphone, there drooling over the Garmin, and wanting to know the name of the CEO of Garmin and more? The answer again, is simple. Garmin doesn’t use the brain washing techniques that apple employs. People aren’t THAT excited over touch screen, OR speech recognition. Instead, they are in love with idea of being in love with a company they perceive to be the center of technology. If MS comes out with it, people often don’t notice. If Garmin comes up with it, people buy it, but often won’t make a fuss. Same thing with newer smart phones by Samsung, Nokia, blackberry and others. It didn’t matter that Samsung had the first phones with true HD. But when apple did it, it became a global news phenomenon. IT IS THEIR MARKETING, and nothing more that causes this, over and over.

    So no wonder these people at the conference seemed bored, if not annoyed. As they have heard it all before, many times. That said, YOU just missed the concept that I have a nearly 8 year old phone that has voice recognition. It makes calls, answers my questions about the date, or operates the phones many functions through voice recognition. Let’s get real. Had my nearly decade old phone been created by Apple, you would be here writing up an article about it back then, if you happened to be writing then. You WOULD have been amazed that while driving you could simply say things and have it follow your commands. Quite amazing for the year it came out in. You would have said that Apple introduced this to the world. Yet it wasn’t an Apple phone, so nothing was said by anyone. Now that Siri is here, suddenly it becomes “Apple has just introduced voice as a major user interface and that its use of voice coupled with AI on a consumer product like the iPhone is going to change the way consumers think about man-machine interfaces in the future”. You would have said the same thing, had that been an apple phone… And THAT in a nutshell is not only the problem, but underscores my point that it’s APPLE MARKETING that is causing the major sentiments and nothing more.. .

  • zingwah

    .. Another thing I want to point out is that you say both Microsoft and the other company are way behind in speech technology etc. That isn’t true. What makes a technology viable at a certain time it’s it’s relevence and efficient use of what resources are currently available. As for data bases, they are a dime a dozen and could all be used by any company at the 2011-2012 level. What you praise Siri for (not an apple creation), with it’s abilities to find things on a map wouldn’t be any stretch for a company like Google. You are forgetting Google is the one that has pictures of everyone’s home’s, and all the maps to begin with. But this is again, what I’m talking about. Apple and it’s fanbase, in their delusional optimism, exaggerate the smallest things and see them as big ones. Getting customers to do this automatically is Apple’s greatest achievement as it’s the keys to automatic and blind acceptance by society. As I said. If one company creates something, people tend not to notice. But if Apple creates it, it’s customer base almost has a programmed response to assume it’s this “wonderful new technology”. And all that love and support in turn also help to somewhat fuel it’s progress to some extent.

    But it’s a matter of skewed perception. THAT phenomena in itself, is the KEY to altering peoples perception. And altering perception is WHAT Steve Jobs was all about upon his return to Apple. He was more about altered perception than he was in being instrumental to key new technologies. Of course he made contributions, however it was the perception of those contributions that was altered through his flowery rhetoric and apple’s rather deceptive ad campaigns. He planned that outcome ahead of time, and it’s also why he prided himself in aligning with other companies or entities that might benefit from what amounted mostly to his marketing skills. He even was interested in helping Obama re-write his speeches for the upcoming election. Not because it involved technology, but because he knew he could create the perception of change and influence by relying on 3rd party speech writers that had helped him.

    If anything Job’s was more of a marketing guru than a tech one. Yet due to the influence those skills have, people perceive him backwards, as an “Einstein” of technology etc… That said, while competitors may “quake in their boots”, it’s only because of the influence they know apple has and not because it’s some amazing, new, alien technology or that it’s a “gatekeeper”. It’s “natural language” abilities are, even as you admitted, primitive and only a small incremental jump over anything. It’s a far cry from jumps that companies like IBM have made with their AI quests of the recent past. Siri falls into a long list of many things under Apple’s roof that receive exaggerated praise by the masses. If it dominates, it will only be because the masses want it to, and that will be because apple’s clever marketing stirs those sentiments.. .

  • http://twitter.com/ednagarrett Edna Garrett

    Everyone is assuming that Siri will someday usurp Google as a point of entry to the world’s information. To have Siri, I need an iPhone. iPhone is never going to have more than half of the mobile phone market. They will cut into Google, but they’re hardly going to vanquish Google. If anything, Apple and Google will relegate Microsoft to the KMart of tech companies, a perennial #3. That’s the story here. Microsoft has been around a lot longer than Google. Besides, why do you all assume I want to f-in talk into my phone? I’m going to smack people in the head if I have to listen to them walking around asking questions into their cell phones.

  • amatya bipul

    in 2013 ,siri is way inferior to google now