What Impact Will Siri Have on Google?

 | Oct 18, 2011 | 6:52 AM EDT  | Comments
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It didn't get much attention after the initial iPhone 4S announcement or in the aftermath of Steve Jobs' death, but following a weekend of playing around with their new phones, most people are impressed with the voice assistant Siri.

Apple (AAPL) has come up with a new feature that is potentially destabilizing for Google (GOOG), its top competitor.

Dan Frommer of Splatf has discussed this for the last few months. Although Siri only seems like an incremental feature update, it's highly likely that Apple considers it to be much more and hopes it can eventually change the way people search.

Apple is inserting Siri between you and the information, whether that be from your personal email or contacts or out there in the universe.

Apple hopes that you will form a bond with Siri as your mini executive assistant. They've done this by making "her" much quirkier and with an edge compared to other robotic voice activated personas of the past. That quirkiness is the key to forming a bond, it seems to me.

Apple wants to retrain you to think about how you get at your data. Instead of Googling it, they want you to Siri it. Can it truly reprogram the way we have learned over the past decade how to quickly and easily get the information we need?

It's unclear at this point. But it certainly appears to have that potential. It's also clear that Siri is better suited for a mobile environment for this job, compared to the pecking out commands on a keyboard.

A friend of mine asked me why Google wouldn't just copy Siri. After all, they've had voice-recognition for some time. In fact, several years ago Google hired the grandfather of the voice-activated personal assistant, a guy named Rich Miner. Miner – who is a super guy – started a company called Wildfire in the 1990s to do what Siri does, although it was more geared for in-the-car stuff.

But Rich was moved out of Google Mobile stuff in the last few years into Google Ventures. I'm not sure if they'll dust Rich off and get him back on the case now.

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