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New report sheds light on why Siri has failed to live up to expectations

Published Mar 14th, 2018 8:00PM EDT
Image: thanat sasipatanapa

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To say that Siri was introduced with a lot of fanfare would be a gross understatement. Siri of course made its debut on the iPhone 4s, and far from being one of many new and exciting feature, Siri was positioned as the iPhone 4s’ flagship feature. Accompanied by a massive marketing campaign, Siri, or so Apple told us, was going to forever change the way we interact with our smartphones.

More than six years since its release, Siri hasn’t exactly lived up to the potential many in the tech industry thought it had. Now that’s not to say that Siri is completely useless. Far from it, Apple’s intelligent assistant has become incredibly useful and more reliable over the past few years. Still, Siri’s shortcomings become impossible to ignore when measured against rival personal assistants from the likes of Google and Amazon.

Highlighting how Siri squandered a significant lead in the realm of intelligent personal assistants, a fascinating new report from The Information provides us with an in-depth look at some of the in-fighting and challenges that apparently plagued Siri since the very beginning.

One of the more interesting aspects of the story centers on how engineers within the Siri team were at odds at what an idealized version of Siri should be.

Siri’s various teams morphed into an unwieldy apparatus that engaged in petty turf battles and heated arguments over what an ideal version of Siri should be—a quick and accurate information fetcher or a conversant and intuitive assistant capable of complex tasks.

One interesting blurb attributed to a former Apple employee reads: “When Steve died the day after Siri launched, they lost the vision. They didn’t have a big picture.”

Truthfully, Siri’s challenges seem to be more deep-rooted than what can simply be ascribed to Jobs’ passing. If anything, Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography on Jobs relayed that Jobs was so sick in the weeks leading up to the iPhone 4s unveiling that he was not nearly as involved in the “vision” of the feature as he might have ordinarily been.

That brief quibble aside, The Information’s full rundown of why Siri hasn’t yet taken the world by storm is downright engrossing and well worth reading. Note, though, that a subscription to the publication is required for full access.

Incidentally, Apple earlier this year disclosed that Siri is now used on more than half a billion devices.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.