How Apple’s Siri Lost Its Edge vs Competitors: WSJ

When Apple first introduced its digital voice assistant Siri, it had no real competition for the first three years. However, it now seems to have lost its edge, which according to The Wall Street Journal, is because its competitors came up with new, easy to use voice-powered products for the home, while Apple remained focused on the iPhone.

Sir

In an interesting article, the WSJ highlights how Apple’s Siri team arrived at an Amazon event in 2014, thinking they were ahead of the competition. But the outlook quickly changed as they watched Amazon’s video showing off a small, voice-controlled speaker that could play music, order products and search the web. Whereas Siri could only handle calendar appointments, text messaging and a few other simple tasks. 

Amazon demonstrated it had figured out how to isolate voices from background noise and have a digital assistant respond to requests from a distance, something Siri hadn’t yet mastered. Today, Apple is struggling to be heard above the crowd.

One reason could be the iPhone itself, one of the most successful consumer products in history. It accounts for most of Apple’s sales and dominates much of the company’s focus, which former executives say has inhibited the company’s ability to develop products untethered from the phone, as rivals did with their brand-new voice-activated devices.

“Siri is a textbook of leading on something in tech and then losing an edge despite having all the money and the talent and sitting in Silicon Valley,” said Holger Mueller, a principal analyst Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm.

Former Siri team members say, progress on Siri has been slowed by a failure to set ambitious goals, shifting strategies and a culture that prioritizes user privacy — making it difficult to personalize and improve the product. The project also has suffered from the departures of key team members, some of whom went to competitors.

Only time will tell if Apple’s newly announced HomePod, a home speaker powered by Siri that will start selling in December, will help the company finally catch-up in a product category it invented.

“Technology runs through my veins...” | Follow me: @DrUsmanQ usman@iPhoneinCanada.ca

  • Bill___A

    If Siri were a person, she would be one of the most illiterate people around. Some of the simplest questions end up with no understanding at all. Siri is like talking to a five year old (or less).

  • It is frustrating to use Siri at times. Google Assistant does a better job with conversational queries.

  • winnertakesteve

    For me they ruined Siri when they got rid of the little “ding ding” to notify you it was listening. Now there is no clear feedback and often it’ll either not catch the beginning of what I’m saying or disengage entirely and cut me off because I didn’t talk soon enough.

    The fact that they broke what should be such a simple UX mechanism is unfortunately symptomatic of my general Apple experiences anymore. I haven’t felt like there’s good thinking behind their work for a while. Although most Apple alternatives still seem have their own compromises.

    So I’m just accepting we’re in a bit of an uninspired tech lull. I guess it can’t always be the crazy 2007-2010 era.

  • raslucas

    Is she not literally 5 years old though? [he said tongue in cheek]

  • OliChabot

    One of the most anoying features of Siri imo as a french canadian is that if I want to hear an artist or a song, it doesn’t pick up the english term I am using (since it thinks i’m speaking french) when i’m actually speaking with an english accent to say ”Viva la Vida” or ”Frank Ocean”, for example.

  • Brenda

    Can’t justify getting any of the voice speaker products when either my iPhone, or the AppleTV remote, is usually at hand.
    And I’m not yet ready to trust Siri with an Amazon order or spend $400 so I can turn off a light from ten feet away. These products are for people in 5000 sq. ft. monster houses.

  • Brenda

    It’s even worse when you set the language to French and give commands with an anglophone accent, although it’s an improvement over some GPSs. The first time I tried to navigate through Montreal, I couldn’t understand the street names because my Garmin was giving me English pronunciations for French street names. “In 500 metres turn right at Lang Jell Liar…”

  • Mamba

    I absolutely miss hearing that “ding ding” sound.

  • FragilityG4

    I can’t believe I never noticed they took that away! Geez I guess the vibration made me thing it was still there.

  • Sly C

    I’m with you on that one. Sad times in Cupertino indeed.

    Except the airpods. Damn those things are amazing.