How Apple’s once-revolutionary Siri lost its edge

“In late 2014, members of Apple Inc.’s AAPL +0.53%▲ Siri team arrived at an Amazon.com Inc. event thinking they were ahead of the competition,” Tripp Mickle reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Apple’s three-year-old product had gained popularity for its ability to handle calendar appointments, text messaging and a few other simple tasks based on voice commands. Siri had no real competitors.”

“The outlook quickly changed as the team watched Amazon’s video showing off a small, voice-controlled speaker that could play music, order products and search the web. It demonstrated Amazon had figured out how to isolate voices from background noise and have a digital assistant respond to requests from a distance—abilities Siri hadn’t yet mastered,” Mickle reports. “‘People at Apple’s anxiety level went up a notch,’ said a former member of Apple’s Siri team who was there that night.”

“Today, Apple is playing catch-up in a product category it invented,” Mickle reports. “On Monday Apple announced HomePod, a home speaker powered by Siri that will start selling in December… Some former executives, close observers and even devoted customers say Apple’s innovative power appears to be waning, stymied by a lack of urgency and difficulty bringing ideas to fruition. In nearly six years under Chief Executive Tim Cook, Apple’s stock has soared but the company has not delivered a breakthrough product on par with the string of hits under late founder Steve Jobs, which included the iPod, iPhone and iPad.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Siri’s current placement, given its massive head start and the fact that HomePod (and for that matter, iMac Pro) won’t ship until “December” (meaning not until Q1 2018 in quantity) is an appalling display of utter mismanagement.

As we wrote yesterday:

It’s a good thing for Tim Cook and Apple’s brass that Steve Jobs left them the iPhone to mask over all of their mistakes that the casual observer can’t even see, but which are painfully obvious to the rest of us.

SEE ALSO:
Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016

32 Comments

  1. Here’s an idea: Cut out the sanctimonious leftist social justice warrior distractions (that oftentimes alienate at least half of your customers) and get to work as if Steve was still here judging your performance.

      1. As of March 1, 2017, the stock market has risen three trillion+ dollars in value…I wasn’t aware The President was a “sanctimonious leftist social justice warrior.”

    1. 5 stars from a Progressive with Sandersian ideals because focus should be on delightful products and technological vision in order to maintain assiduous attention just as Jobs demanded.

      Social justice initiatives can be done just as well by privately endowing social justice organizations.

      As an aside, there are too many spokespeople at Apple making too many appearances, thus diffusing the Apple message.

      1. Agreed. Steve Jobs was probably as far to the left politically as Cook, but let it get in the way of a fanatical attention to detail and making great products. He wasn’t perfect but it doesn’t seem like anyone in Apple management has anywhere close the passion he did. Its understandable since he was the founder, Apple was his baby. Then again Jobs handpicked Cook.

    1. I liken the stock market dominating society to a crown worn by a sickly prince (representing the working class), with Wall St. continually taking jewels and diamonds from below without compensating it and piling it onto the top of the crown to make it more impressive.

      In the meantime, the body politic from whom it’s robbing of wealth gets sicker.

  2. The issue is. It social justice. This doesn’t occupy Tim Cook’s time. Those that continually raise this issue are just homophobic.

    The real issue is that Apple has become fat, lazy and complacent. And it’s never a good idea to put an accountant in charge – focusing on the bottom line might appeal to shareholders, but it leaves the customers cold.

    Apple put all their eggs in the iPhone basket. And iPhone has performed very well for them. They persuaded themselves that iPad would replace the Mac. An error of judgement which has cost them a great many of their most ardent supporters.

    They got arrogant and decided that an ugly, overly large, blank faced watch with a plastic strap and minimal functionality would win them the luxury business enjoyed by Swiss manufacturers of high end timepieces. The hubris involved in selling a gold version which could not be upgraded and would be next to useless within 24 months gives you an idea of the frame of mind amongst the senior management at Apple.

    The road is littered with ideas that Apple has discarded – Siri is only one example. The Mac has been neglected, and not just the hardware. Major problems with networking software (which they never fixed resulting in a return to the original software) made the Mac unreliable in normal,operation for a great many users for a very long time.

    Apple will never again be the Apple that we all fell in love with. They don’t make products for us anymore – they make products for the shareholders.

    That never works.

      1. How many hours a week do you think Tim Cook devotes to “social agenda” issues? Really?

        This has never been an issue that could interfere with his steerage of Apple. In any case, the problems with Apple are not confined to the CEO – there are issues with software, product focus and fundamental understanding of how people use their products.

        Those that continually raise this issue are, evidently, unsupportive of LGBT issues.

        That’s homophobia.

        And it has no place in the discussion of the real issues here.

        1. -phobia is the suffix meaning fear…no one “fears” homosexuals, the rest of the world is just sick and tired of hearing about it like it’s some kind of an achievement.

          NO ONE GIVES A RAT’S ASS WHO YOU BUTTFÜCK.

          got it, jackass?

        2. Typically, libtard hog wash. Labeling people who you disagree with as being mentally ill s the epitome of arrogance and ignorance. The only fags I know who share your opinion are in a constantly asserting their “gayness” and demanding obsequious approval for their “lifestyle choice”. I have a good friend who is queer but he doesn’t parades his queerness. He also understands my belief that his behavior is sinful, still we can get along and work together. You, and your ilk, couldn’t function like that.

      2. Yeah sunbeam Raper: what a dumb axe statement. First of all, it has nothing to do with his sexuality. Secondly, it doesn’t have anything to do with time spent. It is all in the world to do with him making a public connection between The Biz and his personal opinion on matters totally immaterial to his responsibility to stockholders.

    1. “Fat, lazy and complacent”

      Perhaps you should actually watch something more than the WWDC keynote before you make such ignorant comments. Apple is advancing their software at a much faster pace than they ever have. They are also advancing their core hardware technologies as well. That’s hardly being complacent or lazy. Yes, they may not have pushed the Mac platform as fast as most would like, but the fact is, they have been extremely hard at work in many, many other areas. Would you rather Apple become more like Dell, and just grab computer components off the shelf to keep up with everyone else? Apple is building up IP to make sure they can stay relevant in the future – sometimes that begets a lull in product development from time to time. And in case you missed it, Apple just upgraded their most popular Mac lines, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac.

      Furthermore, the iPad outsells the Mac by 2:1, so I’m guessing Apple is correct in concentrating resources where they might most be needed. I’d also like to point out that they never said the iPad would replace the Mac. If you watch Steve Jobs original pitch he placed the iPad between the phone and the Mac. The need for a tablet was somewhat squelched with the rise of phones with larger displays.

      Apple has discarded Siri? Siri is MUCH MORE ADVANCED than Alexa or Google home. It is not as “capable”, because Apple is concentrating on natural language processing rather than command interpretation. There are many examples of how Apple’s system is much, much more flexible in understanding LANGUAGE over the other two. This is why Siri can speak many more languages; it understands the structure.

    2. “The issue is. It social justice. This doesn’t occupy Tim Cook’s time. Those that continually raise this issue are just homophobic.”

      🐂💩!!!

      Besides his iPad Pro, and forgetting fashion and watch bands, that occupies MOST of Tim Time. When not focused on profits and shareholder concerns which takes all of a conference every quarter bragging about Apple numbers …

    3. To follow your illogical statement of 🐂💩 — NOTHING HOMOPHOBIC HERE.

      Get off the elitist negative gay name calling train for once!

      Clueless Cook needs to go because of misuse of company resources dragging all employees into liberal issue politics WITHOUT their permission. BAD BUSINESS and Steve is rolling in his grave.

      Not fair to Apple employees who may or may not be liberal and subjected to a hostile work environment.

      The billion dollar question: If you are a conservative credentialed candidate for an Apple job posting, does Apple discriminate based on Cook politics, hmmm?

      Easy answer. When was the last time Tim acted in a non-partisan manner and embraced a conservative position other than lower taxes on bringing home offshore profits pleasing Wall Street and board of directors. None …

  3. I couldn’t care less that Apple isn’t making market shattering products anymore- Cook is not Steve Jobs. Only Steve Jobs could push people beyond their human tolerances and get away with it. But there is absolutely, positively no excuse for squandering one market-leading position after the next. Clearly- CLEARLY- Tim Cook has taken his eye off of the ball a number of times. He needs to park his butt at the new Apple Spaceship and conduct ‘business as usual’, Apple style, not Cook style.

    1. Precisely! Spot on Botty.

      Rainbow watch bands, pride parades, and Tim’s fixation on cause célèbre politics did not help.

      Liberal distractions ALLOWED Siri pioneer and Apple TV to be overcome by competitors. And as we all know, Apple is NOW playing catch up. Same with PRO customizable computers.

      Siri SUCKS! It worked for me 90% of the time when it first debuted and was groundbreaking tech. Going from a daily SIRI user so many years ago and now a handful of times the last month — simply, it no longer works.

      Tim, as a caretaker CEO riding the iPhone gravy train you would do extremely well as Diversity Chief of Apple and in addition possibly head Apple fashion stores.

      Apple would increase success, please PROS and again LEAD categories from a visionary, tech savvy and creative individual. Sorry, not you Tim …

  4. “abilities Siri hadn’t yet mastered”
    Siri has been responding to requests from a distance for some time. “Hey Siri” will work for my iPhone across the room AND the watch on my wrist. While I AM curious about what she gets wrong, the weather, time, appointment related queries I toss across the room as I’m getting dressed are always real time savers.

  5. What happened to Siri is Tim Cook and Jony Ive.

    They have have stood on the shoulders of giants and then pissed away time with watchbands, failed rental music, coffee table books and let the Mac line grow stale, destroyed the functionality of iTunes, lost first mover advantage on TV, fell behind on WiFi and have still to catch up to a Google on Maps.

    Meanwhile, greed has taken over in the land of in-app purchases. Fully functioning 32 bit apps paid for by customers are being abandoned by developers while they release thinly veiled new apps that milk your wallet for a subscription or other in app purchases. Games have turned into a scam where they offer up ridiculously difficult levels that you can buy your way around with – you guessed it- an in app purchase. What ever happened to paying a fair price for an application and then seeing the developers support it over time. Apple knows this, but gets a 30% cut.

  6. What edge??? Siri is sooooooo wrong most of the time, so I save the frustration and don’t bother. I’m even a decent public speaker. If that’s all the high priced help can up with, the whole lot should be fired. Siri is an absolute disgrace. Anytime a voice assistant doesn’t have an individual voice training feature it’s going to be lacking for a segment of the market. Apple wants to become a leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning? If you can’t make Siri work, you have zero chance at becoming any good at either one.

    1. Siri has never come out of beta as far as I can tell. They try to cover it up with new voices and hardware you can input it into (Watch, AirPods) but accuracy, beyond very clearly, basic queries like timers and calendar events, is weak. There’s not even a hint that Siri is personalized to you. It’s like speaking to a stranger every time.

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