Could Siri take down Google?

The new voice-recognition software from Apple can make appointments, answer questions and remind you about your wife's birthday.

By Kim Peterson Oct 31, 2011 2:45PM
OK, OK, we know Siri is great. People love the new voice-recognition software that Apple (AAPL) has added to its newest iPhone.

But is Siri great enough to torpedo Google's (GOOG) prospects? That's the latest thinking among the tech crowd. "I believe Siri's launch this month spells a future crippling of Google's business," wrote Eric Jackson at Forbes.

That's a little dramatic. Or is it? The number of things that you can do using Siri is impressive. And Google is clearly way behind in this race -- so much so that the company has reportedly shifted some of its biggest speech recognition experts to its Android mobile software team.

Here's a list of things you can ask or tell Siri, according to TUAW:
  • When is my wife's birthday?
  • Schedule a planning meeting in the conference room at 9 a.m.
  • Add Lisa to my meeting with Bob.
  • What does the rest of my day look like?
  • Wake me up tomorrow at 7 a.m.
  • What is the date this Saturday?
  • Email Dr. Manning and say I got the forms, thanks.
  • Where is Starbucks?
  • What is Apple's PE ratio?
  • How's the weather in Tampa now?
  • How many days until Christmas?
  • What's the price of gasoline in Chicago?
There are many more questions you can ask (here's a bigger list). Google's Android doesn't come near the breadth and depth of what Apple has put together here.

Post continues below.
And there is talk that Apple has much bigger plans for Siri. The company may be working Siri into future versions of its television software. Imagine a TV that responds to commands like "Put on the last episode of 'Desperate Housewives'" or "Show the latest news headlines" or even "Play some Lady Gaga videos."

Technology companies have been working on voice recognition for decades, and it's been a difficult battle. It's one thing to recognize words (and decipher accents and colloquialisms). It's another thing altogether to recognize meaning and intent. And no one has been able to do it well.

Until Siri.

Analyst Tim Bajarin also thinks Siri will ultimately threaten the business of both Google and Microsoft (MSFT). (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

"Siri is on track to become the first point of entrance to 'search' engines tied to major databases throughout the world," Bajarin writes in PC Magazine. "It will become the gatekeeper to all types of searches and, in the end, control what search engine it turns to for its answers."

Instead of demanding Apple's cash in the form of dividends, Apple investors should encourage the company to do as much as it can to develop Siri, Bajarin adds. It should buy up databases and make Siri the industry-dominating cash machine it's on track to be.

Oct 31, 2011 5:56PM

Heres a solution to the problems of the world.

Stop dumping so much money and time into celluar phone development.  I dont care how technologyically advanced they are now, or will ever be.. 


 You arent getting back on the moon with a phone.  You arent relieving national energy dependence with phone technology.  You arent even going to make money on your phone. Lets get real people, and get back into reality and stop the worldwide obsession with orwellien screens.    What ever happened with carbon nanotube televisions?  Whatever happened with hydrogen fuel cells?   Why do people care so much about a toy, when there is so much stuff in this world yet to be discovered and used.


Why is ddr5 ram technology in video cards, yet the desktop memory stuck on ddr3?  Its because these companies have technology in their R&D  department, waiting to exhaust all of your money on old stuff.    The next thing youll hear google working on, is a new ice cream flavor.  Thats how scatter brained this technology is.

Oct 31, 2011 4:43PM
It is a lot of fun seeing incredible new features and developments in the Smartphone and the tablet computers nowadays.  But at the same time, it makes me concern of being stupid without having such devices in the life.  Can normal junior high or high school kids calculate simple math without a calculator?  I mean, would these advanced technologies really benefit us?  Such techs may bring our lives with ease, but we may become slave from them...  I am realized that my navigation system in the car has been making me stupid already... 
rapid123... Are you kidding me? Put your money where your mouth is and keep buying that Microsoft, RIM and Nokia stock. I'll keep feeding my Apple machine for at least the next 12 months. You may be correct with you claim that Samsung outsold Apple in Q3 but we both know damn well it was because people were waiting for the iPhone 5 or what actually turned out to be the iPhone 4S. You and I also know Apple will outsell Samsung, Microsoft and Nokia COMBINED in Q4. Just to be clear, I'm talking revenue and not the number of units sold (because Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung give their products away and Apple doesn't). While we are on the subject of Apple, do you care to start a debate on Tablets? Is Microsoft, Nokia, RIM or Samsung going to be able to compete with the iPad2? Just remember the iPad3 will probably be released sometime in Q1 of 2012.
Nov 1, 2011 7:44AM
I read that Apple's Siri doesn't understand the Scots accent.  Anyone heard of other accents it can't comprehend?
Oct 31, 2011 6:52PM
Why do people care so much about a toy, when there is so much stuff in this world yet to be discovered and used.

This is a big reason I'm not a fan of the mobile smart phone or tablet vs. PC. Although, even the PC is a victim of just being an internet device to many households.


There's increased connectivity, but that seems to be focused on things like Facebook, Angry Birds, and so on.



Oct 31, 2011 6:46PM

Who is going to kill who is getting old.


How does this impact search? - I think the assumption is that people will no longer be using google to "google" their questions, but instead, use the voice control to search things....but what is the Iphone searching? (It might be using google search for the answers..............)


Aside from the fact that google is successfully picking up large revenues from other areas. Youtube is paying off more than anyone ever thought would happen. Android is working. And a slew of other investments are all working right now.


And of course, we just have too much evidence the much advertised "death of the PC" is probably exaggerated. Intel is reporting huge numbers still, if the PC is so dead, that wouldn't be the case.


Some of us actually still need our PC (because we use it for more than just searching the internet to buy things). I've never been a fan of this dumbing down. I mean, we're moving opposite. Instead of moving to VR we want to move to Farmville???? Really???


When you have a mass market for more powerful devices, I believe that is better at driving new technology than a mass market for less powerful devices. Maybe they will make Solidworks into a cartoon software.....

Oct 31, 2011 5:20PM

Not wanting to burst any bubbles here, but SIRI is far from being usefull..  Apple is new to the whole voice recognition system thing.  This is their first offering, and from first looks, they are far far far away from it being truely a MS killer.  Only after Siri can control and launch apps, or tie into their functionality, (thats right, I expect interoperability) before Microsoft and their new found love affair with Dragon Dictates home company.  But just to be clear, MS has been doing this for years.. I had it on my old windows mobile 5.5 device. 


And lets also take a look at the android offering IRIS  (Yes, SIRI backwards) which was developed in 8 hours, and released..and had about the same functionality as SIRI.  The new FridayApp they're getting ready to release actually has more integration points and features that SIri could ever imagine.  

Terd Cutter... Keep cutting your terd because you obviously don't have an iPhone 4S or other branded Smart Phone. My Smart Phone at times seems far smarter than I am. I travel for a living so I'm almost always in a strange city where I don't know how to get from point a to point b, where to eat, where parking is cheaper than my hotel valet parking service, check me into my flight, rent me a cheap car and even find me an inexpensive last minute hotel room. Not to mention tell me the weather forecast for the next city, remind me about my assistant's birthday (which I always forget) and set my alarm to wake me at 4:30 am tomorrow morning. I bet your phone will make calls, but can it help you through 90% of your day on a daily basis?
Oct 31, 2011 5:37PM
What a joke Vlingo and Iris are just two of the voice assistant apps on Android usable on any android phone Vlingo does not speak to you like Siri and Iris do it just send you to the web destination for whatever you asked for, Vlingo also launches apps and everything it is solid. Iris on the other hand is an Alpha software package and rather new. I was surprised how intuitive it is being in Alpha so I look for it to mature very quickly most likely by Christmas I am thinking full RC app. Either on do as much or more than Siri does, either one works on any android phone (of course dual core higher memory phones faster). That's not to mention Samsung alone outsold Apple last quarter by almost 75%, and Microsoft/Nokia heavy hitter hardware is about to be released in 7 days as well, on top of that BB is seemingly getting there crap together as well on the mobile front, and so is HP/Palm. I say Apple is going to have a really really hard time keeping much of a position at all. 
Oct 31, 2011 4:10PM

Lets see how many comments I can put in one post...

Yes! Finally, a computer that understands natural speech.

So they put IBM's Watson in a smartphone, did they?  I'm pretty sure that "violates" Moores's Law.

Any predictions on how long until someone cracks the source code?

I'm pretty sure Cleverbot (www. cleverbot .com) is owned by Google. How long could it take to make a Siri act-alike?

Beware the intelligent machine takeover.

When will I be able to describe something and have a search engine tell me what it is? eg, if I see an unknown (to me) species and have internet but not a field guide?

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