Stephen Tyler

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.

Siri has the competition worried

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The internet is awash with the sayings of Siri, the new voice activated assistant in the iPhone 4S.  But the competitors are also talking about Siri.

Android Chief says your phone should not be your assistant:

“Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”

Microsoft’s President of Windows Phone says talking to your phone isn’t super useful:

He affirmed that users can indeed talk to their Windows Phone handsets, but that the kind of implementation seen in Siri isn’t “super useful.”  He also — oddly, we must say — noted that WP7’s voice implementations rely on Bing, which harnesses “the full power of the internet, rather than a certain subset.”

[Ed: On Siri, “Bing this” will search Bing for “this”]

So why the public criticism? My guess is that Siri has made both Google and Microsoft very nervous.  Apple has just introduced a new layer that sits between the user and the internet search engines.  Instead of users querying Google (and occasionally Bing) directly, Siri gets to decide what queries are answered by its partners (Wolfram Alpha, Yelp etc), leaving only the untargetted (and less valuable) queries to be passed onto the traditional search engines.  Apple can now grab (and monetise) all the valuable queries for themselves.

Fast Company seems to think so too. “Why Google and Microsoft are bad mouthing Siri”:

Siri could gum up Google and Bing (and Yahoo) ad revenue.

Google, of course, thinks it should be king of all search, which is why it’s been launching its own search facilities for everything from cheap flights to patents, and now Apple’s app (which has earned huge press coverage) has gone and supressed access to its search beneath a friendlier, more user-pleasing interface. … Microsoft is nervous for the same reason–loss of traffic, and thus ad revenues that go alongside this.

Apple’s also now able to gather a huge database about how its users query the web–and it’s a data-rich “semantic query” one, which could let Apple leap ahead in optimizing its own efforts at Net search technology. And it’s not beyond the pale that Apple could find a way to monetize this layer of data and language-based interactivity in the future, possibly tying in to iAd.

If I was Google or Microsoft, I would be worried too.  Something just appeared out of nowhere that threatens to render their technology irrelevant.

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