Google’s Eric Schmidt tells U.S. Senators Apple’s Siri is significant competitive threat

“Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, appeared on Capitol Hill in September to answer questions about whether his company’s products are anti-competitive,” Chloe Albanesius reports for PC Magazine. “Several senators, however, had a few more questions for Schmidt, which they submitted to him in writing. The Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee today released Schmidt’s responses to those queries, which again focused on Google’s competitiveness, the Android operating system, and more.”

Albanesius reports, “In backtracking on a quote in which he said Apple was not a competitive threat, Schmidt pointed to Siri, which he called a ‘significant development.’ He went on to say that ‘Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information.'”

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46 Comments

  1. After the spin machine mission he went a few weeks ago, I’m surprised Schmidt didn’t claim that he and Steve worked side by side together on Siri while telling each other how awesome they each were.

    On a related topic, Al Gore says he invented Siri along with the Internet. ;0)

    1. Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Right wingers like to put those words in his mouth to make him sound ridiculous. He did, however, write the legislation that made a private defense research network into a public one, thus allowing the internet to be formed, and this conversation to take place.

      1. Al Gore doesn’t need any help to appear ridiculous. His personal aggrandizement, bloated ego, hypocritical behaviors, and self-serving exploitation of pseudo-scientific anthropomorphic global warming is enough to make him a consummate fool and charlatan.

        1. Regardless of how well Al Gore argues for his position, you might want to be clear on what you are against. It’s anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, not anthropomorphic (having human characteristics).
          Unless you count the Gaia hypothesis supporters, not too many scientists or activists are arguing that climate change is LIKE a person. 🙂

      2. Since right wingers are smarter than left wingers, let me assure you that we (right wingers) know Gore did not say he invented the internet. We just say it to get the ignorant (because they dont know that we know) left wingers mad.

        Works every time.

    1. Yeah, sh*t happens, especially when Google no longer has a mole on Apple’s board.

      And since when is a commercial threat bad is it is based on merit? Why is Google lobbying US senators on this issue?

  2. I don’t get it. I thought Siri was voice recognition technology, not a search engine? Doesn’t Siri just translate verbal requests and pass them along to a search engine, like Google? If Siri does it all, bypassing other search engines, then I can see why Google might be concerned.

    1. If Siri isn’t a search engine, why does it require wifi connection?
      Actually, I’d say that a major portion of Siri’s capabilities are very much search related, but it seems to have more domestic talent, as well.

    2. Siri, like Google, is a way for someone to answer a question. All search answers a question, whether the answer is provided in a linked article as part of a search result, or an answer from a robotic androgyne.

      Google’s business model relies on stuff the answers with lucrative ads. Apple’s business model relies on providing the answers on lucrative hardware.

      If an answer device (Siri, leveraging Google and other sources) provides an answer on lucrative hardware but bypasses lucrative ads, it favors Apple’s business model and threatens Google’s. And if someone who wants an answer gets it faster and cleaner with Siri than a Google search, profits tilt towards Apple and away from Google.

      If you combine the Siri and Google approach to information retrieval on a TOST graph (adjust for PBAJ), and include a LATTE analysis, the Siri threat to Google appears very real indeed.

    3. Siri some times bypasses a search engine. If you ask something that Siri can get from Wolfphram Alpha, Wikipedia or Yelp, Siri just goes right to them and sends your query. Otherwise, Siri does a search using your default search engine.

        1. If Siri can’t find an answer to your question she asks if you’d like to search Google. If confirm you are switched over to a normal Safari page displaying the search results– ads and all.

    4. “I thought Siri was voice recognition technology…”

      Uh, what? Siri is an artificial intelligence assistant. It does USE voice recognition. It CAN do searches. But it can also allow you to tell your phone to do things, like set new alarms, change appointments, etc, which is not really searching.

      From an interview with Norman Winarsky of SRI, who was part of the DARPA funded out of which Siri was spun
      http://9to5mac.com/2011/10/03/co-founder-of-siri-assistant-is-a-world-changing-event-interview/
      “9to5Mac: Is this Siri ‘Assistant’ a big deal?

      Norm: Let me first say I have no knowledge of what Apple plans to do with the Siri purchase. I read the rumors just like everyone else and it appears that Apple is getting ready to reveal what it has done with Siri over the past year and a half (we were actually expecting it at WWDC). Make no mistake: Apple’s ‘mainstreaming’ Artificial Intelligence in the form of a Virtual Personal Assistant is a groundbreaking event. I’d go so far as to say it is a World-Changing event. Right now a few people dabble in partial AI enabled apps like Google Voice Actions, Vlingo or Nuance Go. Siri was many iterations ahead of these technologies, or at least it was two years ago. This is REAL AI with REAL market use. If the rumors are true, Apple will enable millions upon millions of people to interact with machines with natural language. The PAL will get things done and this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking another technology revolution. A new computing paradigm shift.”

  3. “Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information.’”

    Yeah, I read the Levy book all about Google. There’s almost no anticipation of any ‘threats’ at Google. They have a monopoly in search, so they just put their heads down and collect ad rates.

    1. As I wrote a while ago, Siri is the thermonuclear war Job’s promised to wage on Google.

      Siri will devastate their business on two fronts. The first front will assault their search business. Withh IOS devices accounting for over 60% of mobile Internet use. . Apple will improve Siri’s performance and and quickly provide the capability to ALL their mobile devices AND macs. Thereby hitting Google where they live …their core money making search/ad market.

      The second front will be to make Android an also ran . Who will want to type in anything into a smart phone when they can speak it. Add to this the 3GS for free and you end Androids one competitive edge… Free phones.

      Glad to see they at least realize their days are numbered.

      1. This “free” thing is complete bull and I disagree with this move by Apple. $100 is nothing compared to the contract will sign in for. It’d have been better it they just sold it unlocked for $300. Android only has a slightly marketshare advantage because it’s cheaper. In my classroom, for example, there is one iPhone, and four Android phones. And you know why they got it? None of them care about Android, it’s just that the contract price was nuts.

        1. Most users aren’t smart enough to understand this.

          Hell, I have a friend trying to give away a “free” BB Torch, but it’s only 3 months into a 3 year plan (damn you Canadian carriers!), so it’ll end up costing almost $2000. I tried arguing the point with her but to no avail. At least she’s trying to replace it with an iPhone 4 (and yes, I also tried explaining that the $60 difference in purchase price between the 4 and 4S is negligible. Then again, I tried convincing her to get an iPhone in the first place… I’m seeing a pattern…).

        2. Curious ratio you have. In my classroom (just over 250 students), it’s running about 55% iPhone to 35% Android and the remainder other stuff. (Unofficial total, of course; although I may try to work it in if I can find a way relevant to the material.)

      2. The thermonuclear weapon that Steve Jobs promised Google will be Siri.

        Google depends on page clicks to earn its place as a one-trick pony. Everything that it does is centered on ads clicking. Every product that it gives out free leads to the ads money tree. To destroy Google is to cut the root of this evil tree.

        Siri is the sword hanging over the head of Google. If Siri can get information without a participant even seeing a pesky ads, that would be big trouble for Google. Google has seen early how Facebook could affect its ads business and it responds to kill off Facebook with its Google+’s impersonator. It too will try to kill off Siri but that would be a very foolish thing for Google to do. If it tries to be like Siri, it will cannibalize its ads-clicking model. That was why Andy Rubin was livid about what Siri could do to Google’s ads business. Whether Google tries to plagiarize the capability of Siri or not; both will lead to the same Shakespearean dilemma found in Hamlet: Google’s one-trick-pony ads business will be disadvantageously impacted. Google cannot block Siri from accessing its search program: to do so would be doing evil which is antithetical to its corporate mission “do no evil”.

        1. Mayhaps the Google doth rely on Hamlet overly much:
          Why then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet to Guildenstern.)
          😆

  4. May Siri send Google stock back down to earth, shot down in flames. If Google were Apple the stock probably would have already shot down to $1.95 in stupid nervous investor anticipation. Siri is a Steve Jobs parting gift best served extremely cold to Eric T. Mole & Co. I can’t think of another company more deserving of being lashed by a disruptive technology.

    1. Well maybe Samsung deserves to feel some Pain also. Keep the Samsung Boycott going. And Apple should have a long memory and keep working towards the goal of not relying on Samsung as a supplier. it is what they will understand. also I imagine that the Korean people feel embarrassed and would prefer Samsung innovate instead of blatantly copy with a bastard OS.

  5. Wait… Apple is NOT a competitive threat, but Siri is? Wait Siri (currently) is only available on 1 Apple product. How can a fraction of the business of a company be a threat when the company is not a threat? And Siri is on a mobile phone!! I thought Google’s Android was blowing the doors off of Apple’s iOS!! So, again, how is Siri a threat?

    (psst… is it maybe because Siri directly affects ad impressions? But it’s only in Beta, and has been plagued by network issues the past few days. Yet, they’re still scared. MENE MENE TEKE UPHARSIN …. the handwriting is on the wall).

  6. ‘Google has many strong competitors and we SOMETIMES FAIL TO ANTICIPATE the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information.’

    Yeah, especially since you couldn’t attend their meeting again insn’t it?

  7. Seems google takes every opportunity to take/steal apples IP or to portray it as some sort of threat that has to be beaten and competed against. So it is with total amazement and disbelief that SJ actually took time out from his last few days to advise googles Page on how to become a better company. The advice was typically Jobsonian, and advised Page to cancel all projects and focus just on the top five So far news have been that Page actually took that advice and is actually implementing it. I am a agreat fan of SJ and always will be, but why did he do stupid things like this? Did he forget the thermonuclear option with Google?

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