Is Siri a Threat To Google?
Investment firm Piper Jaffray might butt heads with Android lovers out there. In its study conducted earlier this year, it found that Siri, Apple's voice recognition software turned personal assistant, is wrong about 1/3rd of the time. However, the study revealed something interesting when compared to Google's version.
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Most people are now familiar with Google's voice assistant. Piper Jaffray compared the two and found that while Siri only correctly answered the users' queries 62 percent of the time on a busy street and 68 percent in a quiet room, it understood 89 percent of the questions being asked while in a quiet room. Even on a busy street, it understood the user 83 percent of the time.
Google's accuracy was much higher - 86 percent - when asked the same questions as Siri. Why the discrepancy? Well, for a while now, Siri has relied on Google for many quieries. Yep, even as Apple vowed to create its own ecosystem with Siri, it still had to rely on Google to provide the results.
In iOS5, Siri relied on Google to answer 60 percent of user quieries. In iOS6, that percentage dropped to 30 percent. In other words, Google has lost 50 percent market share on iPhones and other Apple devices using Siri. Since Piper Jaffray's test was done using iOS5, it's reasonable to assume that the issue wasn't all Siri's fault. You'd expect Google-powered devices to work better with Google's own search service and, after all, Siri isn't a search engine. It still needs data to draw on.
What's more, Siri seems to have improved in iOS6, according to Piper Jaffrays, "It appears the two voice assistants are comparable to one another in terms of understanding the spoken query and returning the correct result. In our test, Siri correctly understood our queries 91% of the time in a quiet environment compared to Google Now at 88%. In terms of accuracy, we determined that Siri accurately answered understood queries 77% of the time compared to 75% for Google now."
Siri seems to excel at OS/system-level commands and local search. With a 30 percent reduction in data use from Google, Apple needs to continue developing its search functionality (or partner with more search providers) to keep up with its competitor. But Piper Jaffray doesn't seem to think that Apple's ship is going to sink. In fact, it believes Apple will continue to improve on Siri and, thus, its operating system.
As Siri continues to improve, expect Google to feel the pinch. Remember, Apple controls the software on its devices and has done so for quite some time. iPhones continue to fly off the shelves, people still beg for more iPads, and Apple's expected foray into the T.V. set market all mean that the company is poised to expand its ecosystem even further. People still use Google, sure, but if it's easier to just use Siri's voice command - and as long as the results improve (which they are) - then the growing number of Apple users will, by default, become Wolfram Alpha (or whatever else Apple buys up or partners with) users.
In a sense, Google is more likely to lose a user for every new committed Apple user out there than it is to retain a customer on Apple's OS. Maybe it's not too late for Apple to go "thermonuclear" after all.