Apple Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Siri

New York City iPhone 4S customer sues Apple, claiming Siri advertisements are misleading and that the service doesn't work as depicted in commercials.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

March 13, 2012

3 Min Read

Frank M. Fazio, from Brooklyn, N.Y., bought an iPhone 4S in November, in part based on commercials he saw for the device's personal voice assistant, called Siri, which Apple describes as a beta service. Siri listens to voice commands and then performs a number of actions, such as setting up calendar appointments, dialing phone numbers, and transcribing text messages.

Fazio believes he was duped. His real-life experiences with Siri don't resemble what's depicted in the commercials at all.

"In many of Apple's television advertisements, individuals are shown using Siri to make appointments, find restaurants, and even learn the guitar chords to classic rock songs or how to tie a tie," read a portion of the lawsuit.

"In the commercials, all of these tasks are done with ease with the assistance of the iPhone 4S's Siri feature, a represented functionality contrary to the actual operating results and performance of Siri."

Fazio filed a lawsuit against Apple in California for false advertising, claiming that Apple's commercials are misleading and deceptive about just how capable Siri really is.

For example, Fazio said that when he asked Siri for directions, "Siri either did not understand what plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer."

[ Apple's iPad update impresses, but it's not perfect. See New iPad: What Apple Left Out. ]

Fazio is seeking unspecified damages and says that Siri is obviously a work in progress and not the polished service depicted on TV.

From my perspective, it's hard not to disagree with Fazio. I have an iPhone 4S, and I find that Siri works less than 50% of the time. I'll ask Siri a question or issue a command, and more often than not Siri tells me that she didn't understand what I was asking her to do or simply fails to do it correctly. I've had Siri dial the wrong phone number, inaccurately transcribe dictated messages (despite my perfect diction), as well as completely time out or crash.

But I'm not going to sue Apple about it.

Apple clearly said from the beginning that Siri is in beta. The service has been in beta since its October launch. Apple hasn't said if or when Siri might ever leave beta status. Surely, Apple has been cultivating all the data generated by iPhone 4S owners who use Siri to improve how the service works. For example, Siri just recently learned to speak Japanese.

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference is about three months away. Since Apple didn't give us much info about new iOS operating system features at the recent iPad launch, I expect we're going to hear a lot more about iOS--and Siri--come June.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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