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Why Siri won't kill Google Search.

So, TechCrunch is at it again, as usual, this time running a guest article by a guy who was an investor in Nuance and Siri, explaining how, surprise, surprise, Siri is going to kill Google Search.

The main argument is, Siri's user interface doesn't return 10 blue links, it returns an answer, and one without an ad, and this will be devastating to Google's business. There are so many things wrong with this argument, it's hard to decide where to begin.

1. Only 9% of searches are mobile, and even in the most optimistic estimates, it only raises to 20%.
2. Apple only has half the smartphone market, and their share is shrinking compared to Android. So, at best, they have control over 5-10% of Google's search traffic.
3. Siri is iOS only
4. Siri is just a user interface, it has no databases of its own at the moment. History is littered with search-engine metacrawlers. Siri can't answer queries without Yelp, Wolfram, Bing or Google, so unless Apple builds their own search engine, they will have to pay Bing or Google for those searches.
5. Siri is based on publically funded research through DARPA/SRI via CALO, so how defensible is its technological moat really? Much of the research is published.
6. Both Google and Microsoft have their own machine learning and voice expertise and are no slouches in this area. Unless Siri has some super general patent to troll with, it doesn't seem likely they'll maintain a lead.
7. Desktops/Notebooks are not going away, reports of death greatly exaggerated.

I'm not bashing Siri itself, I think it will evolve, and search interfaces will gain better natural language processing over time, but the idea that a device with a small share of overall search traffic with a proprietary interface is going to kill all the other search engines is ridiculous, if for no other reason, than Siri itself can't work without search engine backends.
Jesse Wilson's profile photoAmogh Talpallikar's profile photoShaun Tebo's profile photoAfam Edozie's profile photo
Great points you make, but you missed one thing - People who do use Siri run the risk of getting locked up for having a conversation with their damn phone. I despise Siri at its most basic level. Its bad enough every person out there looks at their phone all day, now we're going to have millions of losers talking to them. Sad... A guy at work talks to his phone in the office. I want to fire him.
Fantastic post. Factual, clear, unbiased.

You'll never get a job at TechCrunch if you carry on like this!
"Siri, which company should I buy car insurance from?"
+Ray Cromwell , Sir I am your biggest fan now !!!! awesome reply.. I am posting this on the article at Techcrunch.
I just sampled the TechCrunch koolaid today out of boredom, and it reads like an Apple propaganda machine. Siri killing Google is like the spoon killing the knife.
Jesse: "Iris, which company should I buy car insurance from?"
Iris: "Best magazine reports 8 features important to buying car insurance, are you most concerned about price, speed of claim resolution, or a courtesy car?"
Jesse: "Price"
Iris: "I have just gotten 40 quotes for your 2005 Toyota Brava, the cheapest three are . . . . Would you also like me to get a quote for the Mercedes you were researching last week?'

This is the evolution path of voice based user interfaces.

Most simple conversations have an objective, which a computer can figure out, by parsing the sentence using simple logic, historical examples (a database of sentences and phrases people have used to achieve different objectives) and simple rules of grammar and syntax. And also carries data that is linked to that objective.

Over time you can build up the number of objectives you can fulfill (number of things it can do) by analysing failed interactions (find out what people want it to do, but couldn't get it to do.)

Voice based user interfaces will no doubt be as revolutionary and disruptive to the industry as windows, icons and mice were.

In 10 years time (when mobile computers are $50 each) they will likely account for over 80% of computing devices and very likely well over 50% of searches.

No doubt iOS will not be the leading operating system by then, the Android ecosystem vs. the iOS ecosystem is so reminiscence of Betamax vs. VHS or Microsoft vs. Apple or GSM vs. CDMA, the lesson is that it is not about how good the product or technology is, but that it is now too difficult to win a standards war on your own.

My hope is that Android and Chrome's VUI will be open such that it will benefit from the innovation of everyone with expertise and passion.

Siri can not kill Google, but as a long standing Google shareholder, I am concerned that voice based UIs will change the rules of the game and reduce Google's competitive advantage. I also feel their is time for Google to respond both on the Android platform but also on the desktop (if you think Voice UIs will be confined to smartphones think again - Graphical UIs turned up on mainframes before the launch of Windows 1.0)

Disclosure: I also own Apple shares.
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