Siri said to be driving force behind huge iPhone 4S sales

Strong sales of Apple’s new iPhone 4S smartphone can be attributed in large part to Siri, Apple’s new virtual personal assistant, one analyst believes. The Cupertino, California-based company launched the iPhone 4S in just seven markets on October 14th, and it later reported that sales of the new model surpassed 4 million units during the device’s opening weekend alone. In the U.S., Sprint said the iPhone launch brought the carrier its “best ever day of sales,” and AT&T confirmed that it activated more than 1 million iPhone 4S handsets in less than a week. Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu claims Apple’s success with the handset is due in large part to Siri. Read on for more.

Siri raised eyebrows and piqued interest when Apple first revealed the new feature during a press conference last month, and many wondered if Siri was enough to distinguish the iPhone 4S from Apple’s previous-generation iPhone 4. According to a research note from Wu, the answer is yes.

“Despite global macroeconomic headwinds, Apple continues to defy conventional wisdom with a higher-end product mix,” Wu wrote in a note to investors. “Talking to industry sources, what’s driving the 4S is better than expected reception of its new Siri software.”

The Sterne analyst says Siri separates itself from similar solutions on competing devices by working more reliably and by allowing users to speak conversationally. “What makes Siri unique and different is that its voice recognition works well (unlike competing solutions which are unreliable) and also offers artificial intelligence (AI) in helping interpret user commands and answer questions.”

Wu reiterated his Buy rating on Apple stock, and he believes Apple will sell 26 million iPhone handsets in the December quarter.

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