Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
11/6/2011
10:49 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
50%
50%

iPhone's Siri Threatens Google, Schmidt Says

Google chairman tells U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that Siri could gobble Google's bread and butter--search. But it rings a bit false.

Answering questions posed by the U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee, Google chairman Eric Schmidt called the personal voice assistant in the iPhone 4S, named Siri, a "significant development" in the search market. Schmidt went so far as to say that Siri represents a threat to Google's search business, which is the company's bread and butter.

He could be right. Here's why.

I've been using Google's voice-assisted search tool for years on iPhones and Android smartphones. It's a great tool when you don't want to (or can't) take the time to peck out search queries on a touchscreen. It's not 100% accurate, but it works well enough most of the time that I prefer it to any other search method.

That is, until Siri came along.

With the iPhone 4S, I pose all questions to Siri (when it's working). Is Siri a better search tool? Does it provide better results? Is it faster? Not necessarily, but it's a hell of a lot more entertaining. And if Siri doesn't succeed on the first try, you have the pleasure of awaiting its sassy response. This is clearly a case where personality actually counts for something.

[Looking for some new apps that take advantage of Apple's updated mobile operating system? Check out 10 Innovative iOS 5 Apps.]

"Even in the few weeks since the [previous] hearing, Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S," he wrote, reports AppleInsider.

Of course, Schmidt's motivation for calling Siri a competitive threat isn't because he's actually scared of Siri's impact on Google's search business. No, he's trying to allay the Senate's concerns that Google is a monopolistic entity that needs to be regulated. Schmidt is going to call up every competitor he can think of to shore up Google's defense.

"Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information," Schmidt noted. "Apple's Siri is a significant development--a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search."

Innovative? Yes. Competitive? Yes. A real, immediate threat to Google's core business? Well...

Siri will not impact Google's position in the search market anytime soon. Despite the entertainment value in Siri's search powers, it's not going to dislodge Google's dominant position in the search market, at least, not for a while. While iPhone 4S users may skip Google search on their iPhones, that's one very small segment of users and doesn't account for Google's desktop search business, which is huge.

Google owns 65% of the U.S. search market, 94% of the European search market, and 97% of the smartphone search market (thanks in no small part to the raging success of its Android smartphone platform).

Siri might have an impact eventually, if Apple brings it out of beta and expands it to more than a single device. For the time being, however, Schmidt's statements ring a bit false.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
pankaj
50%
50%
pankaj,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2011 | 11:09:08 PM
re: iPhone's Siri Threatens Google, Schmidt Says
siri is the logical next step of search. audio search is undoubtedly an improvement over text queries. mobile devices are obviously the most convenient place to get search results. natural language is evidently an improvement over search strings.

add all the above, and you get siri. well, if not siri, something like siri.

pankaj
http://www.hyperoffice.com
Tom LaSusa
50%
50%
Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2011 | 4:05:49 PM
re: iPhone's Siri Threatens Google, Schmidt Says
Silly talk from Schmidt -- like you suggested, designed to take the heat off Google in the Antitrust hearing. Suffice to say there's a healthy number of people that refuse to use Apple products of any kind, so Android is safe in that regard.

Also, I'm inclined to agree with David Coursey over at Forbes: I can see an eventual Siri backlash as some users get tired of the chirpy AI assistant and revert back to standard searches.

(http://www.forbes.com/sites/da...

Tom LaSusa
InformationWeek
purrungas
50%
50%
purrungas,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2011 | 3:49:13 PM
re: iPhone's Siri Threatens Google, Schmidt Says
Siri is Google just like Icloud, apple just gives it different names and a bit of a twick, does not bother me, I love google and their smarts and prices, when has apple given an app for free? almost every Android phone has Google navigation with it and we do not get charge for their usage, hope they remain the same way..... congrats to the best company.... Google.... yeahhhhhhhhhhhh
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of January 18, 2015.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.