Make no mistake: It represents Apple’s entry into the search market.
In other words, Apple’s war with Google continues to heat up. And this time, Apple is beginning to aim right at Google’s crown jewels.
Siri is not a search engine in the same way Google is. It doesn’t index the web and deliver a bunch of links and pictures and videos back.
But it represents what we think one form of effective search will look like on mobile platforms: It takes a request from you and brings back actual results.
Here’s how Siri works: You talk to it with your voice and it answers questions or makes recommendations.
As the company notes, “Siri can help you find and plan things to do. You can ask Siri to find a romantic place for dinner, tell you what’s playing at a local jazz club or get tickets to a movie for Saturday night.” Siri also says it’s developing tools to handle “reminders, flight stats, and reference questions.”
How does it do this? Not by scraping and storing a bunch of data from the web, the way a traditional search engine does. Instead, Siri plugs into other web services’ APIs. This way it can answer a variety of questions and actually take actions, like making reservations directly within the app via OpenTable’s APIs.
The idea is that this is much easier for a mobile user on-the-go than typing in a search query into Google, getting sent to a web page that probably isn’t formatted for your mobile browser, and trying to figure out how to go from there.
And because so many of these queries have a transaction as the end result, it’s a lot easier to make money from affiliate relationships and ads than most other search queries.
We don’t know how much Apple spent on the company — somewhere between $100 million and $200 million seems likely.
But given how Apple is now finding itself increasingly in competition with Google — and that Google just bought a similar service, Aardvark — if Apple can make Siri a mainstream winner, it could be another advantage versus Google’s Android phones.
And don’t miss: The Crazy Phones In Japan That The iPhone Is Competing With
Here’s a video demo of Siri:
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