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Google's Schmidt Calls Apple Siri a "Significant" Threat

By - Source: Cnet | B 33 comments

Though he doesn't mean it in a bad way!

September was something of a rough month for Google, what with it having been hauled in front of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights to answer for accusations that they engage in anti-competitive business practices. Its dominance of the search engine world remains secure, for now, but if their responses to questions posted to them by that Senate Committee are any evidence, Google may be preparing for a post-Google rules everything around us world. Those responses have now been posted to Google Docs, revealing the position Google took in its own defense. In short: we are totally vulnerable, honest!

Google was represented at those hearings by Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who stated outright that "Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information". He specifically cited Apple's Siri app as a potential threat to Google's search engine dominance, calling it "a significant development—a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search."

This comes in direct contradiction to statements he made in September, 2010 that Bing, not Apple or Facebook, was Google's biggest competitor. Acknowledging this, he said "My statement last September was clearly wrong... We compete against a broader array of companies than most people realize, including general search engines (Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo!), specialized search engines (Kayak, Amazon, WebMD, eBay), social networks (Facebook, Twitter), commercial software companies (Apple, Microsoft), mobile apps, and even direct navigation. The Internet is incredibly competitive, and new forms of accessing information are being utilized every day."

Siri is of course a very cool app and Facebook will almost certainly defeat Google Plus. Taking into account that Apple's share of the home computer market remains dwarfed by PC (even accounting for insanely large iPad sales), it's likely that Google's market dominance is likely to continue for some time. It is obviously in Google's best interest to emphasize the strength or its competitors, real or not. A much better defense than, say, 'we're only on top because we already control the market' or 'switch to the new look'.

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  • 7 Hide
    memadmax , November 9, 2011 1:51 AM
    I don't like the fact that if Apple's servers go down, Siri goes down, something wrong with that.

    Is Siri reporting back everything it does back to apple?

    Wouldn't surprise me.
  • 3 Hide
    memadmax , November 9, 2011 1:52 AM
    Yes, I know its a search engine based on an apple server....
  • 6 Hide
    walter87 , November 9, 2011 2:09 AM
    memadmaxI don't like the fact that if Apple's servers go down, Siri goes down, something wrong with that.Is Siri reporting back everything it does back to apple?Wouldn't surprise me.

    Welcome to the future of cloud computing.
    These things happen, and will continue to be more frequent as more and more services move to the cloud.
  • 0 Hide
    xerroz , November 9, 2011 2:09 AM
    memadmaxI don't like the fact that if Apple's servers go down, Siri goes down, something wrong with that.Is Siri reporting back everything it does back to apple?Wouldn't surprise me.

    It's Apple, of course it goes back to them. They then sell that data to the highest bidders. A bunch of weasels like always just like Papa Stevie wanted
  • 6 Hide
    nebun , November 9, 2011 2:09 AM
    memadmaxI don't like the fact that if Apple's servers go down, Siri goes down, something wrong with that.Is Siri reporting back everything it does back to apple?Wouldn't surprise me.

    google does the same thing....so stop being so paranoid
  • 8 Hide
    cadder , November 9, 2011 2:12 AM
    My daughter got the new phone. We played with it all weekend and never got a single valid answer out of Siri. There is a lot of hype but so far it seems to be pretty ineffective.

    As for cloud computing- I started with computers back in the days of mainframes that we used through terminals. With a mainframe you get to use the computer when someone else decides that you can use the computer, it isn't up to you. With a PC it belongs to you and you control it. Cloud computing is just another form of mainframes, and you get to use the cloud when someone else decides that they will let you use the cloud, it isn't up to you. I prefer using my own PC over using the cloud.
  • -1 Hide
    Borisblade7 , November 9, 2011 2:21 AM
    Yeah its overhyped big time. Its a thousand times faster and accurate to just google it. Yeah the future will be voice activated, but the future isnt here yet. Siri is nothin special, just the usual overhyped Apple product. Maybe one of these days i'll see an apple product I have interest in, but this is yet another product thats either all hype, or made for idiots and has a mile long list of what it cant do that i can easily do on any non apple device.
  • 3 Hide
    acadia11 , November 9, 2011 2:40 AM
    If I were Siri I wouldn't have sold myself to Apple, I would have licensed my tech to both Google and Apple and MS for that matter. Dummy's they didn't realize the goldmine they had on their hands $200 million vs being the next big thing on the block.
  • -5 Hide
    stm1185 , November 9, 2011 3:33 AM
    I'm sure Google can rip it off in the next 6 months and then let Samsung and HTC pay the licensing fees for their theft.
  • -4 Hide
    bin1127 , November 9, 2011 4:28 AM
    I think patenting a swipe motion on a touch interface is pretty anti-competitive. If Google forms partnerships with rival competitors just to buy up patents for billions over the next bid then that's pretty anti-competitive too.

    The committee should focus on whether Google is stifling innovation and reducing consumer choice.

  • -7 Hide
    watcha , November 9, 2011 5:22 AM
    cadderMy daughter got the new phone. We played with it all weekend and never got a single valid answer out of Siri. There is a lot of hype but so far it seems to be pretty ineffective.As for cloud computing- I started with computers back in the days of mainframes that we used through terminals. With a mainframe you get to use the computer when someone else decides that you can use the computer, it isn't up to you. With a PC it belongs to you and you control it. Cloud computing is just another form of mainframes, and you get to use the cloud when someone else decides that they will let you use the cloud, it isn't up to you. I prefer using my own PC over using the cloud.


    Please post some examples of questions you and 'your daughter' asked Siri which were not answered?

    I assume from your post that you never use search engines such as Google, since they too, are cloud based?
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , November 9, 2011 5:23 AM
    bin1127I think patenting a swipe motion on a touch interface is pretty anti-competitive. If Google forms partnerships with rival competitors just to buy up patents for billions over the next bid then that's pretty anti-competitive too. The committee should focus on whether Google is stifling innovation and reducing consumer choice.


    i wish i could thumb you up more.
  • 1 Hide
    watcha , November 9, 2011 5:26 AM
    borisblade7Yeah its overhyped big time. Its a thousand times faster and accurate to just google it. Yeah the future will be voice activated, but the future isnt here yet. Siri is nothin special, just the usual overhyped Apple product. Maybe one of these days i'll see an apple product I have interest in, but this is yet another product thats either all hype, or made for idiots and has a mile long list of what it cant do that i can easily do on any non apple device.


    People who use Siri also use it to dictate long pieces of text far far quicker than they can type on a mobile phone. Remember, it's a mobile phone we're comparing to. Not a keyboard.

    When you compare the time to open up a browser, navigate to google, type in your search, find the right link, click it, and read it, vs just saying 'What is the weather today?' - Siri is much quicker.

    And that's before we even cover the fact that you can use Siri with no hands, whilst doing other things, jogging etc, or the fact that you can send text messages etc with it.

    To focus purely on a search engine search vs a user on a PC keyboard is to misunderstand the purpose of Siri.
  • 0 Hide
    tofu2go , November 9, 2011 6:48 AM
    memadmaxI don't like the fact that if Apple's servers go down, Siri goes down, something wrong with that.Is Siri reporting back everything it does back to apple?Wouldn't surprise me.


    If you consider the fact that what Siri does is kind of similar to IBM's Watson, which is a cluster of 90 computers... it is not surprising that your phone needs to offload the processing to a bigger computer.

    No doubt Apple is using the information being sent to it, probably for machine learning and improving the quality of results. This is a legitimate use.


    With regards to Siri being overhyped, while Siri in its current form and implementation may leave something to be desired, the concept itself is huge. IBM's Watson has already given us a vision of the future, and what Apple has done is made something similar--although perhaps not quite as advanced--available to mobile users today. Just wait until Siri further evolves until the day it does match Watson. This is just the beginning.
  • 2 Hide
    Goldengoose , November 9, 2011 10:06 AM
    watchaPlease post some examples of questions you and 'your daughter' asked Siri which were not answered?I assume from your post that you never use search engines such as Google, since they too, are cloud based?


    use your brain - he's referring to the fact that if apple's server's go down, then siri goes down. The issue is that it doesn't actually have alternatives (can't search itself) for downtime.

    And a colleague of mine has the Iphone 4s, we tested it in both relatively quiet and noisy area's(office environment) - it really struggled to under the latter. Check the reviews, they are heavily mixed across the board.
  • 0 Hide
    caparc , November 9, 2011 12:18 PM
    For years I've envisioned a Siri like application. In the simplest terms it's speech recognition (or a text box) connected to a natural language "bot" that can learn fuzzy commands from individual users and do simple things like open applications, search for answers, make small talk, etc. All the "technology" needed to do this has been around for years. It hasn't happened because everybody's hung up on "artificial intelligence" which doesn't exist and will never exist and because the people who play with bots are too coked up to develop anything useful. But there's something even better, more useful, more obediant--simulated intelligence. That's what Siri is. As soon as programers and the public catch on there will be lots of Siri like services including in google. It's not that hard Mr. Programmer. Work a bit of overtime, learn some new stuff, hire in some people who understand bots (but don't do drugs) and it will fall into place pretty fast.
  • 1 Hide
    techtre2003 , November 9, 2011 12:55 PM
    watchaPeople who use Siri also use it to dictate long pieces of text far far quicker than they can type on a mobile phone. Remember, it's a mobile phone we're comparing to. Not a keyboard.When you compare the time to open up a browser, navigate to google, type in your search, find the right link, click it, and read it, vs just saying 'What is the weather today?' - Siri is much quicker.And that's before we even cover the fact that you can use Siri with no hands, whilst doing other things, jogging etc, or the fact that you can send text messages etc with it.To focus purely on a search engine search vs a user on a PC keyboard is to misunderstand the purpose of Siri.


    IF Siri understands what you said in the first place (when you're out of breath jogging it might not) it simply brings up the same thing as tapping the weather icon on the home screen. It doesn't tell you the weather it just displays a page. So all you are doing is holding down a button and talking to your phone rather than just tapping an icon. The voice text is pretty nice although you have to make sure you have distinct pronunciation. From what I've heard from Droid users, they've had voice text for quite a while now. I also agree with Cadder, the search function of Siri doesn't work well for me either; it's faster for me to just pop up google and find what I want - which admittedly some of that is because that's what I'm used to. So for me, I thought Siri was going to be really cool, but really has been a disappointment.
  • 1 Hide
    cyprod , November 9, 2011 1:21 PM
    watchaPeople who use Siri also use it to dictate long pieces of text far far quicker than they can type on a mobile phone.

    I kind of want to rip you on this using my old adage "I type faster than I write, and I write faster than I think. Tell me to write a paper on a computer and I'm completely screwed" for why dictation is pointless as most people talk faster than they type, and use proof, that people with secretaries have been able to dictate since the dawn of written language, yet still you only see people actually give a dictation in the movies, but then you had to put "on a mobile phone".

    I think you're right, on a form factor where typing is difficult, voice recognition might just be the way. But I will still hold steady that voice recognition for "long dictation" is worthless as I tend to think most have issues getting their thoughts in order to type anything long, let alone speaking it as they're coming up with it.
  • 0 Hide
    Djhg2000 , November 9, 2011 2:23 PM
    nebungoogle does the same thing....so stop being so paranoid

    Actually, with ICS it looks like it will at least have voice analyzed locally since you can dictate.
    Wouldn't be a pleasant experience with the current setup.
  • 0 Hide
    wiyosaya , November 9, 2011 3:48 PM
    cadderMy daughter got the new phone. We played with it all weekend and never got a single valid answer out of Siri. There is a lot of hype but so far it seems to be pretty ineffective.
    Personally, I am not surprised at this. Language is a pattern. For a first "public" release, I would be surprised if all the patterns that spoken language can take are covered; therefore, the inconsistent / poor results. I am sure they will improve the pattern matching over time.


    cadderAs for cloud computing- I started with computers back in the days of mainframes that we used through terminals. With a mainframe you get to use the computer when someone else decides that you can use the computer, it isn't up to you. With a PC it belongs to you and you control it. Cloud computing is just another form of mainframes, and you get to use the cloud when someone else decides that they will let you use the cloud, it isn't up to you. I prefer using my own PC over using the cloud.

    Agreed. The cloud is a non-localized resource which general users cannot control. I also prefer my own PC / networked PCs to the cloud. IMHO, my data is far more secure on my own PC.
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