Debate on Apple Siri threat to Google

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Siri learns users' preferences

The integration of personal assistant application Siri into Apple's iOS 5 operating system for the iPhone 4S smartphone has led to debate in the digital industry concerning its threat to search giant Google.

Siri uses voice recognition to answer questions and perform actions, directing the user to internet services and products and providing a fast and convenient alternative to text-based search engines such as Google.

It also adapts to preferences with continued use and becomes increasingly familiar with its master, allowing it to make recommendations based on the user's personality and preferences. This has led many people to speculate about how its popularity will affect Google's fortunes.

Responding to criticism of a previous statement in which he denied that Apple or Facebook were adequate sparring partners, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt admitted: "Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information."

Forbes blogger Eric Jackson was far less restrained in his views and wrote an article entitled Why Siri Is A Google Killer. He specified the app's quality, personality, convenience and ability to grow as areas of concern for the leading search engine. He also noted that the artificial intelligence used by the function will be extremely difficult to replicate.

Google could create a better product

A week later, however, Jackson's colleague David Coursey posted a response article entitled Five Reasons Siri Is Not A Google Killer. Coursey reminded readers that Siri is an iOS-only device and likely to remain that way, as Apple wouldn't want other brands to use it - meaning that its ability to dominate the market is restricted. He also stressed that Apple is not an 'everyman' brand and many people are content with less 'cute' products that are simply effective enough for their needs. Most notably, he insisted that Google has enough knowledge and power to create a better product.

Daniel Nolan, general manager at theEword, said: "Siri has undoubtedly been a hit with many users of the iPhone 4S, now being an integrated part of iOS instead of an optional application.

"However, it will be interesting to see how its popularity progresses once the initial novelty has worn off. It has more advanced voice recognition technology than that used by telephone banking and utilities companies to filter calls, but different people like to access information in different ways, so its ability to threaten Google may be limited - especially if Google chooses to develop a similar product."