Let Us Introduce Siri


By Drew Muller

There’s no question that Apple is at the apex of the technology hierarchy. But with Siri, its new voice control application whose name sounds like an Eastern European figure skater, there’s a large possibility that the company could pull further away from the pack and tauntingly figure-eight around any competition. The new iPhone 4s, though strikingly similar to its predecessor, has Siri—and that’s enough to make people throw their money at Apple, or at least gobble up stock shares.

It seems to me that this is just the latest case of the Apple mystique, but, of course, I can’t act like I’m completely immune. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m perpetually surrounded by an orchard of Apple products, or that Siri provides a constant companion so it looks like I’m holding a conversation while sitting alone in the dining hall. It’s probably a combination of both that has left me itching for an iPhone, but I would venture to guess that there’s a more important underlying factor that leads to the consumption of Apple products.

Apple was the first company to introduce highly functional voice response technology to its mobile devices, right? Wrong.

Although Apple would certainly want you to think so, Siri is not the first of her kind. It just so happens that Microsoft, the pouting, PMS-ing younger sibling to Apple’s varsity cheerleader, introduced voice control software called TellMe, which is comparable to Siri, over a year ago on its Windows Phone 7. In a recent interview with Forbes Magazine, Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer for Microsoft, sounded detectably annoyed when the public acclaim to Siri was brought up. But who could blame him?

Apple introduced Siri to the public only two weeks before the device hit stores, and buyers instantly knew about the new feature, many saying that it was one of the main reasons why they decided to purchase the 4s. This reveals the marketing brilliance of Apple, the ineptitude of Microsoft in the same area, and the importance of connecting with consumers. Smart marketing has been a major key in Apple’s success and a major struggle for Microsoft as it tries to make its top-notch software appealing to the masses.

Apple knows exactly how to market its products, and has perfected the process with intriguing presentations (see Steve Jobs introducing the first iPhone) and eye-catching commercials. Masterful marketing has linked the company with innovation, a concept that will keep buyers chomping at the bit to get their hands on whatever Apple releases.

Siri vs. Tellme is a perfect example of the significance of effective marketing—Apple was able to get the word out about its new product immediately, while Microsoft still has to remind people that it’s done something similar.