2013 Winners And Losers In Tech

Brian S Hall / December 9th, 2013

We track, analyze and oftentimes promote technology because of its overarching, mostly positive impact on our own lives and throughout the world. It’s many disparate parts, incorporating intellectual property and global manufacturing, hardware and software, content and creativity, when brought together at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way can be both uplifting and magical.

While we may not fully understand all the long-term ramifications of what our technology has wrought, we can know its winners and losers. In 2013, much like the harsh, unblinking truth at the final whistle of some great sporting clash, knowing who won and who lost was surprisingly rather easy to discern.

Winners

Amazon

There wasn’t even a close second.

Hardware, content, search, real-time pricing algorithms, personalization and a near-infinitely scalable platform. There is no more high tech company than Amazon. Yes, $AMZN has (only) gone up this year. If Jeff Bezos is to be believed, and the evidence certainly suggests so, then the company is just getting started. Amazon is the low-price leader in retail, a behemoth in cloud services, the first place most of us think to visit when we think about buying anything — and the unmatched leader in big ideas.

Google Glass is so Spring 2013. All anyone is talking about now are Amazon delivery drones. Amazon is more than talk, of course. It took Amazon to offer live, personal (“Mayday”) support for every new Kindle tablet user. Did Apple, king of the locked-down, high-margin, customer-focused hardware-based ecosystem, even consider such an audacious idea?

Amazon, not Silicon Valley, is the new home of really big ideas. Amazon embodies a scope of business, a level of execution, and a breathless vision that I don’t think even Google can match. They won 2013.

Twitter

A highly successful IPO, a highly engaged user base, the new home for breaking news, the place we share our most joyful moments, greatest tragedies, and idle thoughts.  Apple execs say damn near nothing outside of highly staged events. Yet both Tim Cook and Phil Schiller tweet often.

Tablets

What, exactly, is the purpose of a tablet? No one seems to know. I cover the industry and typically recommend them only to grandparents and toddlers.  Microsoft finds the tablet so utterly confounding — despite 10+ years of effort — that they can still only envision such a device with a keyboard attached. The numbers do not lie, however. At least, not in 2013. Tablets are everywhere. Per IDC, 220 million tablets moved just this year alone.

Team iOS 7

iOS 7 is audacious, shocking, beautiful as a European runway model, and just as brittle.

If you were part of the team that developed iOS 7, congratulations. The iOS 7 adoption rate is already nearing 75%. With around 500 million iOS devices in use, that’s 375 million devices running with your OS — about triple the latest Windows operating system.

iOS should fuel Apple for at least another generation, and iOS 7 points the way forward.

Gaming and Gamers

A new Playstation, a new Xbox, and a new chip (A7) powering Apple iOS devices make 2013 the best time ever to be a gamer. Add in social media gaming, a billion smartphone users, and ‘computer games’ are now as ubiquitous as Miley Cyrus gifs.

Female Tech Execs

I believe Marissa Mayer’s strategy, such as I can divine, consigns Yahoo to a permanently middling presence in our lives. Much content, some personalization, cloud-scale, new acquisitions and several new mobile apps all point toward nothing more than news, views and reviews of the sort our parents now get from morning TV talk shows. Doesn’t matter. The market has spoken and the money people obviously like what Mayer is doing.

Meanwhile, Meg Whitman is righting the busted ship that is HP and Sheryl Sandberg is making the day-to-day adult decisions at Facebook. Since Tim Cook is determined to transform Apple into a “casual luxury” brand, I can absolutely believe the rumors that Apple’s next CEO will be Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts. That’s quite a line-up.

Road Warriors

All praise the glories of the market. In-flight WiFi became possible, then practical, then profitable, then widespread, and then the government — surprise — changed the rules. Now we can keep our electronic devices turned on, legally, throughout our entire flight. Self-interest mixed with technology is a powerful combination.

Google Lawyers

What a year! Google lawyers fought off Oracle, got a judge to agree that digitizing and making “out of print” books freely available was a public service, signed a sweetheart deal with the FTC, despite a monopoly position in search which they have frequently abused, and the late Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear war on Android has not slowed down the world’s most popular OS even in the slightest. I’m assuming there will be quite the cash bonus from Larry Page to his merry band of lawyers.

Considered: Kickstarter, Pinterest, iTunes (seriously), iPhone 5s, and the ‘smartphone’. 

Losers

Computing technology is deeply personal yet seeks to connect us with everyone and everything. It can eradicate the worst parts of our past, re-invent our very notions of the future and captivate our present. Oftentimes, however, it flops worse than a petulant soccer player on a losing team. This year’s biggest losers in tech:

Facebook Home

Facebook Home was such an utter, abject, laughable failure that you probably already forgot that it ever existed. I suspect that the mysterious illness that prevented Google’s Larry Page from talking for so many months stemmed from his laughing hysterically when he first saw Facebook Home.

Steve Ballmer

I believe no non-founder ever gave more of himself, his talents, his passions, his sleepless nights, as Steve Ballmer gave to Microsoft. Ballmer helped Microsoft become so big that it — literally — scared governments and sent the mighty Steve Jobs, fortuitously, scurrying off as far away from “personal computers” as he possibly could.

Nonetheless…Microsoft’s stock has done better since Ballmer announced his “resignation” then it did during the decade he actually ran the company. Worse, much worse, and nearly inconceivable, is that there are over a billion smartphones in use plus hundreds of millions of tablets and nearly everyone has absolutely no Microsoft software inside.

For all I admire about Ballmer, and I admire much, the company’s failure in mobile computing is, in my opinion, a far more devastating capitulation than Time Warner buying AOL at the absolute top of the market.

Smartwatches

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear commercial is glorious. The watch itself is Kanye-cool. Only, no one bought one because there is no need for one. The year of the smartwatch was anything but. Galaxy Gear flopped. Apple’s iWatch never appeared. The Pebble watch was essentially a high-margin toy purchased by Silicon Valley insiders. Not wanted, not needed.

Google Maps

Every quarter, as Google reports anew the latest Motorola loss, we are presented with yet another reminder that Google’s purchase of Motorola was a profound strategic mistake.

I don’t think it’s their biggest. Rather, that would be Google’s decision to consign iOS users with an inferior version of Google Maps — for years. That led to Apple’s decision to offer its own mapping service. As Charles Arthur notes, Google Maps has already lost tens of millions of iPhone users — possibly Google Inc’s most lucrative customer base. Hubris.

Siri

Apple’s existence now spans across five decades. In all that time has the company ever promoted a device or a service as prominently, as consistently and as aggressively that has gone so utterly unused as Siri? Siri is now more than two years old and still doesn’t work as it should. Worse, even if it did we would still rarely use it.

Skeuomorphism

We all learned what this word meant when Apple killed it off. It was time.

The Third Mobile Platform

As of this moment, smartphones now sell about a billion units a year. This massive, industry-shifting market belongs almost entirely to two platforms: Android and iOS. Symbian is dead. BlackBerry is at death’s door. There is effectively no Tizen, no Firefox OS in actual use, no Ubuntu and nearly no Windows Phone.

Has the industry consolidated this quickly, despite being this big, this global? As much as I believe there is room for a thriving Windows Phone ecosystem, the market itself, in every region and across every demographic, tells us that iOS and Android are enough for nearly everyone. Perhaps 2014 will surprise us.

Considered: Obamacare website, PCs, privacy, BlackBerry, the “cheap” iPhone, and RSS.

Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about mobile devices, crowdsourced entertainment, and the integration of cars and computers. His work has been published with Macworld, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, ReadWrite and numerous others. Multiple columns have been cited as "must reads" by AllThingsD and Re/Code and he has been blacklisted by some of the top editors in the industry. Brian has been a guest on several radio programs and podcasts.
  • pk_de_cville

    Today a Siri user needs patience and commitment. Tomorrow (2014? 15? 16?) a user may need only a request.

  • 20,000

    Microsoft’s failure goes way beyond their losing mobile. They’ve messed up their company so badly that even their future in the enterprise market is cloudy at best.

    • Explain.

      • 20,000

        It seems obvious from what has been reported in the last 18 months. If you disagree, I’m okay with that.

      • Scott Sterling

        I’m not sure I know what zabro means, but I’ll take a shot: Micrsoft’s success in enterprise is not based on user love, its based on the “orifices” who control purchasing. Pressure from users who often despise their Windows environment could be like a dam that bursts one day.

        • Bill Smith

          Worse, Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand the very point you just made. Apple isn’t killing Microsoft, nor is Android. BYOD is killing Microsoft because IT can’t dictate Microsoft into success anymore.

          • Space Gorilla

            So true. The clients I’ve worked with (over the past 20 years) all use Windows, and I have yet to hear a kind word about the software and systems. It’s a steady stream of complaints and frustration. It does seem like Microsoft really believes that people love using Windows and Office, and that just isn’t true.

  • RBB

    I use Siri every day. I didn’t get the memo that I’m not supposed to, I guess.

    • TheEternalEmperor

      Every day. Timers. Meetings. Reminders. Gave the daughter an iPad mini, and I had to tell her NOT to use Siri to spell words. I wanted to make sure she’s comfortable looking up stuff in a dictionary.

      Siri works. Is it perfect? Nope. But it works a heck of a lot better than non-existent Amazon drones.

      • Touche

        • Scott Sterling

          I use Siri so much that I have only one app in my dock and zero apps on my home screen. Wild guess: 25+ times per day.

          • Whoa. I bet you’re in the 0.1% for Siri use. What are common uses?

          • Scott Sterling

            What’s the weather like today? Remind me to… (about 5+ times a day). Whats the score of the FSU game? How many grams of fat in an avocado? Tell my wife I’m on my way. Schedule me to go to Client at 9 am tomorrow. Play Wake Me Up by Avicii. Call the office. Launch Daylite. How long will it take to get to Lakeland?

          • TheEternalEmperor

            Where’s my wife? Tell wife “whatever.” Play “whatever”. I have two networks at home, my worse problems with siri is when it is own the network that doesn’t use my wifi-extender, but instead the other one that is a bit more iffy from that part of my home.

            On LTE, Siri has pretty darn good. Love it. I think LTE(or a solid wifi) really shows Siri chops.

          • dfunk85835

            Who’s the coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, add soy sauce to my asian grocery note, add twine to my hardware store note. Tell me when my husband leaves work, set a timer for 8 minutes, wake me up at 7:30 Make an appointment for haircut on January 12 at 3:30, call Karin’s iPhone, send a text to Wanda, read my messages…reply, play Sarah Vaughn radio, launch Kayak, change my alarm to 7:00 am. And on and on and on.

      • Joe_Winfield_IL

        I’ll third that. Dictating messages while driving. Timers. Reminders, constant reminders. Appointment scheduling. Calculator (faster for error checking math homework than actually using a calculator). Web searches. Opening apps. Weather check. Bar bets (how old is an actor, which is larger, etc.) Every day.

        • TheEternalEmperor

          Forgot about math stuff. A few weeks ago, “What is a prime number?” Excellent.

        • Ok. I will try all these. Maybe it takes practice to get the process right. Thanks.

  • Altuner

    It’s said that software is eating the world. I think Amazon is eating the world – or at least retail in the US. But delivery drones might be nothing more than Bezos’ innovation we’ll never see, simply because they would be too intrusive and too dangerous.

  • zabro

    Smartwatches are a concept in search of a market. “Not wanted, not needed”? Probably correct.

    • Space Gorilla

      There’s lots of opportunity in wearables, if done correctly. I tend to think of wearables in two ways: one, as sensors, and two, glanceability (is that even a word?). The combination of those two can be powerful. It might not even need to be a watch or bracelet, could be a Star Trek style communicator badge (for the sensor or voice UI part). But the wrist is easy and comfortable, it makes sense. There’s lots of information that becomes an order of magnitude easier to obtain when you’re glancing at a screen on your wrist instead of taking your phone out of your pocket or bag. Voice UI is also a natural fit, and we probably won’t see anything from Apple on this front until Siri is more mature. Remember, Apple doesn’t care about being first, they care about being good.

  • aardman

    The time will come when Amazon has to pay state sales taxes and show real profits. Then all the great bargains, all that unrivaled customer support, free shipping, etc. will be scaled back or disappear. That’s when the real competition begins. Even now, they’re already putting the squeeze on; the threshold for free shipping has been upped to $35, prices don’t seem to be as great as they used to be. Also, Holder will not be Justice secretary forever so Amazon will have to eventually stop relying on the feds for the defense of their monopoly position.

  • pxlated

    We actually didn’t learn what skeuomorphism was – we learned what extreme real-world style/decoration was…Here’s a good explanation
    Textured leather is not skeuomorphism, it’s decoration/style – Flat design is still skeuomorphic – http://t.co/3aodCgPGVW

    • pxlated

      iOS7 could actually use a little more skeuomorphism in some cases – Is the “OK” on the lock screen just letting you know you entered the code correctly or is it a button? What’s a label and what’s a button?
      See “trim” here – http://uxcritique.tumblr.com

      • Scott Sterling

        That’s actually sort of designer-pedantic. In the real world I’ve not heard anyone complaining that they can’t figure out what button to tap.

        • pxlated

          Neither you nor I probably interact with enough people “In the real world” to know whether it’s a problem or not. 😉
          But, a simple outline around a button would definitely discourage confusion if some was present.

          • TheEternalEmperor

            Well, my wife is not techie and she hadn’t had any issues. In fact, the opposite. I showed her Photostream, she showed a few even less techie friends and they are constantly sending stuff back and forth.

            Here friend is so non-techie that she asked me how to set it up so photostream photos show up on her PC(or Mac). I don’t know what she has.

          • Scott Sterling

            Ditto. All the designer angst over this button “problem” is just inside baseball stuff. The real world is happy.

          • pxlated

            Have you ever designed anything? Have you ever designed a UI? Have you ever sat through testing/usability sessions and watched people interact with a UI? Have you ever had a senior executive of a Fortune 500 ask why his neighbors wife is having trouble using a UI? … Etc.
            I’m guessing not.

          • TheEternalEmperor

            I’ve designed UIs and I still disagree with you. Now what?

          • pxlated

            Don’t care, was responding to Scott Sterling’s comment.

          • pxlated

            Well, I have a buddy who’s girlfriend is also not a techie and she’s afraid to press anything unless she know she’s suppose to so all your story or mine means is there are all kinds out there in the world that need to be accommodated

          • TheEternalEmperor

            So we both have anecdotal evidence. Except I have two people and 74% of users have upgraded, which is being touted as a positve. Now what?

          • pxlated

            Yes, the auto update feature gets a large percentage to update and makes life easier for Apple’s tech support as they know what system most are on but says nothing about if those 74% are finding it easy to use or intuitive.

  • stefnagel

    Amazon Drones and Google Glass are signals that both companies are scared to death. Whistling in the graveyard. Whenever dictators, and both these are dictators, get scared, they unleash the hysterical Five Year Plans.

    Google isn’t just losing iOS users; it’s been losing ad revenue all year. And Amazon must realize that same day delivery, much less same hour, solves a problem almost nobody has. As other retailers catch up to two day delivery, Amazon will decline.

    Free lunch is great. But there’s no loyalty for or from free lunchers. Google and Amazon pillage at will; they owe none of us nothing. But, at the other end of the bell curve, we owe them nothing as well. As the “great map switch” on iOS attests. Apple loyalists saw it through the hard times and even put up with its arrogance and ignorance back in the nineties. But who will give a hit when G and A start skidding?

    • TheEternalEmperor

      That’s the problem with cheap hardware targeted toward people who are unable or unwilling to pay more for even slightly more expensive stuff.

      Sell all the cheap Kindle fires and $70 tablets you can hoping that the people who camp out and storm Wal-mart will continue to buy product at other times. Good luck with that.

  • Space Gorilla

    Couple things. First, the Microsoft/tablet issue: “Microsoft finds the tablet so utterly confounding — despite 10+ years of effort — that they can still only envision such a device with a keyboard attached”. Microsoft’s failure in tablets, and mobile generally, is that they can’t imagine a world where people don’t need Windows and Office. Instead of working on a great tablet they’ve been working on a product that runs Windows/Office.

    Second, on Siri, that’s clearly a long term play for Apple. It seems obvious that a less deep service that works better would be easier for Apple to implement, but Apple is thinking many years ahead. Siri five years from now is going to look very, very different.

    • While I agree with you re Microsoft’s Windows/Office blind spot, I think it goes further than that. They can only think of “computers” as having a keyboard and a mouse or stylus. That’s a profound weakness.

      • Space Gorilla

        I agree, and that keyboard/mouse/stylus fixation stems from Windows/Office. But you’re right, even in recent advertising, Microsoft has a very narrow view of what a ‘real computer’ is. They ask “How can we build a tablet that does X?” instead of “How can a tablet be useful?”

        Microsoft probably isn’t capable of building a consumer-friendly easy-to-use OS. Windows never was that, and while Metro was interesting it had many problems and Microsoft was incapable of breaking from the past. Even Xbox, is the interface really that great? I think Microsoft will slowly morph into more of an IBM.

        I never thought I’d see the end of the Windows empire in my lifetime, but it’s happening right in front of us. Incredible to watch. And satisfying as well.

        • Bill Smith

          It’s much more entertaining to watch Microsoft morph itself out of existence. Hey, Blackberry needs company.

          • Space Gorilla

            Microsoft will be around for quite a while, they’re too big to disappear, they’ll just change. But they haven’t been relevant for quite some time.

  • Rene Stein

    I’m not really sure how Amazon captures the title of “big ideas” company.

    • TheEternalEmperor

      Tech pundits can sometimes be notorious for short memories. Case in point: All the the “Apple no longer innovates” articles were by the same people who shot down the iPhone for now playing flash, having a keyboard and an SD slot.

      The iPad was nearly universally panned by pundits the internet over. Now, it is a shining example of the “Apple of Day’s Past.”

      • Joe_Winfield_IL

        No company has ever been better at innovating through subtraction the way that Apple has for the last 10+ years, starting with Jobs’ decision to kill the floppy drive. They have deliberately left so many features out of product offerings, and it’s hard to remember just how much controversy there was along the way. We forget only because they have been successful.

  • TeeJay2000

    I winced at your winners list. While you suggest that innovation has shifted from Silicon Valley to Amazon, the success of your winners is mostly tied to Apple. Tweet that on your iOS device. Drone delivery? That’s just scary. I will let you answer the door ok? And the ‘near-infinitely scalable platform of Amazon’s model will at some point require something companies like to call ‘profit. I think they can do it, but we’re all going to have to chip in. Correction on the Google lawyers victory lap – they managed round 1 against Oracle, but not lookin’ good for the second and final round. Not that I am biased, but I would have nominated ‘Apple’ for winner – the profoundness of my choice will be clear next quarter report 🙂

    As far as losers, your list rocks. And Siri does too.

    • Good insight. Thanks.

    • Kizedek

      Yes, I winced a bit at that, too:
      “Amazon. There wasn’t even a close second. Hardware, content, search, real-time pricing algorithms, personalization and a near-infinitely scalable platform. There is no more high tech company than Amazon. Yes, $AMZN has (only) gone up this year…”

      I listened to Horace Dediu’s Critical Path recently about Amazon: about how Amazon’s “success” isn’t anything particularly new. And it’s not clear how much of their “investment” (spending?) is actually required in order to just sustain their current position and growth — rather than to build something strategic or new, which can’t somehow be disrupted as they throw all their eggs into one basket.

      Yeah, Amazon is all online, and they rebadge old tablets — doesn’t really mean “there is no more high tech company than Amazon.” Yeah, right. Ambitious maybe. I remain as confused and skeptical as Horace.

      But, Amazon certainly is a winner regarding its stock price and perception. If nothing else, they have got everyone believing there is no more high tech and visionary company than Amazon.

      • Scott Sterling

        Brian, for a tech company to be a winner, I think that, by definition it needs tech-like margins. Let’s say 20-30% at least. So if Amazon’s prices go up 20-30%, will their sales fall? Yeah, I kind of think so. Amazon is a retailer that uses the latest tech to be efficient. That really is not a tech company, in my opinion, at all. Thoughts on that last part?

        • Do app developers make 20+% margins? Are they tech? Was IBM a tech company when it was losing billions? I’m not sure margins is an effective way to define tech. When Apple margins go down in a quarter are they less “tech”?
          To the second part: Amazon makes hardware, makes software, runs a giant cloud infrastructure, has search services, uses robots, etc. I’m just not sure there’s a more tech company than Amazon. Though I suppose we could simplify this and say only companies that explicitly offer tech products may be called tech companies. Till we agree on that, I’m sticking with my choice.

          • Scott Sterling

            Regarding whether Amazon ought really to be called a tech company: First… they don’t sell software, they use it in service of their retail sales efforts; and their hardware sales are at a loss, and are actually just in service of their retail selling efforts. Remember that the products they exist to sell are not tech products, they’re everything from books to toothpaste to underwear to computers. Second… the use of robots would make Toyota and GE tech companies too, but they are industrial companies. I do agree on the giant cloud infrastructure, that’s very tech. Even so, the infrastructure exists first and foremost in service of their retail selling efforts, and they offer it to customers apparently at little or no profit. So in the end I still think Amazon is not a tech company like Apple, MS, Google or Facebook, but really just a damn smart retailer.

          • steve_wildstrom

            Amazon certainly does sell software. It’s called Amazon Web Services and is a very rapidly growing part of the company.

          • Scott Sterling

            What I said is that they don’t sell “their software”. Being a software reseller does not make you a tech company. Witness Circuit City et al.

          • Bill Smith

            You may want to visit Amazon Web Services on Wikipedia to get some background.

            Would you say that SalesForce, Microsoft Azure, Google Hangouts and their ilk are NOT software-based tech businesses?

            When Amazon’s data centers burp, 20% of the Internet-attached businesses in the US go down.

          • Scott Sterling

            Let’s not forget Netflix. That’s AWS as best I can recall. Still, what percentage of Amazon’s revenue is AWS? The answer is 7%.

            So if Amazon is 93% retailer (of mostly other companies’ products) and 7% tech company, is Amazon a tech company as a whole? That’s the question I’m posing.

          • steve_wildstrom

            I don’t think you understand what Amazon Web Services is or why it is important. AWS offers computing on demand for business and a substantial part of the internet, including all of Netflix, runs in the Amazon cloud. Originally Amazon offered storage (S3), then virtualized computing (EC2), and is now moving up the stack into a broad range of Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service services.

            Strictly speaking, I guess they are renting their software rather than selling it, but then, so is Microsoft.

          • Scott Sterling

            Quote from my original post: “I do agree on the giant cloud infrastructure, that’s very tech. Even so, the infrastructure exists first and foremost in service of their retail selling efforts, and they offer it to customers apparently at little or no profit. So in the end I still think Amazon is not a tech company like Apple, MS, Google or Facebook, but really just a damn smart retailer.”

            I actually do have a basic understanding of what AWS is, and acknowledged that it’s “very tech”. But that’s not “selling” software as you stated. It’s actually selling services (SaaS). While it is very techy, that is not fundamentally what Amazon does. They are, first and by a long shot, a retailer of products produced by other companies. Everything else they do serves that end.

          • TheEternalEmperor

            I would say that Web Services does quality. It’s very specific, but it is software.

          • Scott Sterling

            Given everything else Amazon does, I wonder what percentage of their revenue is from AWS? Enough to call them a tech company instead of a retailer? If Walmart did the same services as AWS, would they be a tech company?

  • Mauryan

    Is Siri could be honed with a training package where it can be taught to follow one’s speech, it would be a huge success. When setting it up, if a user says a standard set of words and Siri learns to recognize how they are pronounced by the owner, then it would make it a lot more productive. I hope Apple makes it that way in the future.

    • Agree. I speak perfect the Queen’s American and Siri has probably no better than a 50% success rate. Even on a touchscreen using just my thumbs I can beat that.

      • TheEternalEmperor

        During what? I get better(way) than 50% nearly 100% of the time for playing music, creating reminders, sending texts, timers, even occasional twitter posts. And I have a slight lisp.

        If you mean dictation, like long docs,…well, Nuance is probably the best there is. If they can’t do better than 50%, it can’t be done.

      • dfunk85835

        Mine is closer to 90%, it would be interesting to see how you interact with it to cause such a high failure rate.

        • I will try it again. I remain skeptical.

          • Bill Smith

            Please see my post above, which has some suggestions on getting Siri to work well for you.

          • dfunk85835

            It’s far from perfect. It just confounded me trying to phone someone in my address book (she IS in my address book). Too often is unavailable (“something is wrong…”) But most of the time it works for me. A net positive. It’s a feature I’d miss a lot.

      • Bill Smith

        Hmmm… “[You] speak perfect the Queen’s American”? No, I can’t imagine why Siri has difficulty understanding you… 😉

      • Space Gorilla

        Weird, it’s so accurate for me that I always dictate when I have to text or write on the iPhone. I just make sure I speak clearly. I definitely don’t talk normally, I talk as if I’m dictating to someone.

      • Herding_sheep

        Either you’re doing something wrong, or Siri just doesn’t like your overly pessimistic/negative tone towards her.

        I’ve mumbled things to Siri just to test accuracy and still managed to be interpreted mostly correct. So I really fail to see how you could be so bad at using Siri. Unless of course, you’re exaggerating.

        I’ve dictated messages while driving, hardly making any effort to enunciate words clearly, while my stereo is playing fairly loud in the background, and it managed to be accurate. The only problems I encounter is when I say names or road names that are more slang than proper words, such as “I95” or things like that and it will interpret it as “Eye 95.”

        If you don’t personally see a need for Siri, then thats your opinion. But don’t spread falsehoods about Siri “not working.” Works just fine for me and the millions of others who do enjoy using it in certain situations.

    • dfunk85835

      Siri does learn your individual voice and improve it’s interpretation and transcription over time. It doesn’t have a formal “training period” like Dragon, but does it in the background (on Apple’s servers).

      • Bill Smith

        Actually, the mistake many people make (and Apple doesn’t explain, mostly because it’s incomprehensible to mere mortals) is that of allowing others to use Siri on your device.

        If you have ever allowed someone else to use Siri on your device, turn Siri off; wait a few minutes; turn Siri on. Start over. This will cause Apple’s servers to forget what they’ve learned regarding your speaking patterns. You’ll find that Siri becomes smarter in a short period of time.

        Also, try to enunciate your words. I work with a number of people who have very thick accents. Unfortunately, if a human has trouble figuring out what you’re saying, Siri will do even worse. You’ll do far better to use Siri in your native language. I’ve never quite understood why someone who is a native French, German or Chinese speaker would set up their phone for English.

        On returning to work after a long time among native English speakers, I realize how much conversation has to do with context and hand gestures. Siri doesn’t have such advantages. Worse, what some consider “English”, even as native speakers, can be pretty awful. If you barely passed English, and this includes American, Aussie and UK-born folk, your concept of English may be quite inaccurate.

        Other than names (I work with a large number of foreign nationals) and streets, it’s rare that Siri misunderstands me. My problems with Siri tend to be connectivity-based.

        Siri supports the following languages:

        United States (English, Spanish)
        United Kingdom (English)
        Australia (English)
        France (French)
        Germany (German)
        Japan (Japanese)
        Canada (Canadian French, English)
        China (Mandarin)
        Hong Kong (Cantonese)
        Italy (Italian)
        Korea (Korean)
        Mexico (Spanish)
        Spain (Spanish)
        Switzerland (French, German, Italian)
        Taiwan (Mandarin)

  • Bill Smith

    I would disagree on one point. Steve Jobs never scurried away from “PC’s”, except out of abject horror. Even if he were to have scurried, he would have done so in a very elegant manner with custom Ive-designed accoutrements.

    Good work!

  • DGF

    >Apple’s existence now spans across five decades.

    Five decades? Apple was founded in 1976.

    DGF

  • JoeS54

    Are you seriously calling iOS7 a winner?!?!? I don’t get angry about much, but I hate iOS7 with such a passion that I ditched my iPhone for a Samsung. I know of NOBODY who likes it. There are plenty of people who tolerate it, sure. As for comparing it Windows… uh…

    1) iOS7 is free to anyone with an existing iOS device.
    2) It only takes a few minutes to download and install.
    3) Once you install it, you can’t uninstall it.

    Windows 8 basically requires you to buy a new computer if you don’t have a touch screen in order for it to really be worth the upgrade. I got a Surface Pro 2 a few weeks ago, and it’s awesome on that device. A far better touch interface than iOS or Android.

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