There’s a new consensus developing in the techo-chamber:”Siri is a miraculous new search interface!
Google is screwed!”
This consensus has been bolstered in recent days by comments that Siri is being used 10X as much as Apple thought it would be and Kevin Kelleher’s story in Fortune entitled “Yes, Google, Siri Is A Serious Threat“.
Keep dreaming, people.
I don’t even have an iPhone 4S yet, but I’m still ready to call BS on this one.
Siri is no threat to Google whatsoever.
One main reason:
With the exception of a few very limited circumstances, using Google’s search interface is vastly more convenient, precise, and helpful than using voice commands.
Unless you are walking or driving at the exact moment that you conduct your search, it is much easier to punch a few characters into the search window and then look at a full page of results than it is to try to verbally ask your phone to conduct the search for you.
A few reasons:
- For many people, it actually takes more effort to speak clearly and precisely than it does to type a few characters.
- To get Siri to work properly, you have to spend time thinking of what and how to ask–more time than it takes to type a few characters into Google Instant
- Siri often doesn’t understand exactly what you want, which leads to immediate frustration in a way that using Google does not
- Any time you are in the presence of other people–in the office, on a train, on the street, in a restaurant, at a meal–talking to your phone is rude, inappropriate, or alienating in a way that typing a few keys is not
And then of course there’s the other obvious point, which is that Google also has a voice interface. If searching by voice does, by some miracle, become immensely popular, Google will be there, too. But I doubt it will.
I don’t have an iPhone 4S yet, so I suppose it’s possible that I’ll be so wowed by the Siri voice search experience that I’ll immediately stop using Google. But I sincerely doubt it. Although Siri looks like a fun toy to play with, and does seem useful when driving or setting reminders, I have no interest in using it for search.
To make sure I’m not just in some fuddy-duddy minority, though, I just asked the newsroom how many folks with 4Ss use Siri to search. (Lots of us ran out and bought the 4S the moment it went on sale).
Gadget guru Ellis Hamburger.
Ellis says that, when he’s alone on the couch, he’ll occasionally ask Siri to find out a piece of data for him, like what the Lord of the Rings did at the box office. He says that, in that circumstance, it’s easier to ask than type.
I sit near Ellis all day in the office, though, and I have never once heard him use Siri to search for anything.
Entertainment guru Dana Eisenberg, meanwhile, says she never uses Siri for anything, because Siri never understands her. The other iPhone 4S owners in the office report that they played with Siri initially, because playing with Siri was fun and cool, but that they have never once used Siri to search for anything.
So go ahead and dream about Apple disrupting Google with Siri, folks.
But it just ain’t going to happen.
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