Enterprise Mobility: Does Apple's Siri Pose a Serious Threat to Google Mobile Search?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-11-29 Print this article Print
John Gruber

John Gruber

Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber, who is as fervent and meticulous an Apple watcher as there exists today, mused on the impact of Siri. The quibble we'd have with Gruber's point about Siri using more data sources is that it's not the data sources that draw people to search. People trust Google. The assumption that people will just drop Google for wholesale voice-activated search is suspect. Imagine the cacophony of people shouting into their iPhones on busy streets. That would be quite a spectacle if that comes to pass. Sometimes the projections of user adoption are too generous. Gruber also noted that Siri couldn't answer several queries. People don't tend to complain about that with Google.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) captured the consumer technology market by storm with the iPhone 4S last month, but the biggest piece of news wasn't about the phone itself so much as its Siri virtual assistant software. Siri marries speech-recognition technology with contextual information that leverages a user's location and previous searches to help iPhone 4S users look up weather updates, book restaurant tables or complete other tasks. Apple analysts and pundits who reserved judgment when Apple acquired Siri in 2010 went nuts for this technology, calling it anything from a "Google killer" to a harbinger of the future of mobile search interfaces all over the world. The thing is, Siri is far from unique in the market. Google and Microsoft have offered speech-recognition software for years. Microsoft acquired TellMe and uses voice search on its Windows Mobile phones. Google has offered Voice Search on the iPhone since 2008 and its Voice Actions application is considered a poor man's Siri. Yet Google and Microsoft haven't been able find a way to get their voice-recognition applications to catch on in the mainstream. Why do analysts believe Apple will successfully productize intelligent speech recognition while Google and Microsoft have struggled? The reason is simple: Apple's cachet and track record in mobile consumer technology, which includes popularizing the smartphone and tablet. This eWEEK slide show covers what market watchers are saying about Siri and its potential impact on the industry.

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