Eric Schmidt touts competitive threat of Siri in letter to US Sentate antitrust subcommittee

Mon, Nov 7, 2011


Google may try hard to uphold their “Don’t be Evil” mantra, but the search giant apparently has no qualms about being hypocritical. We saw this first hand a few months back when Google made a number of public statements about the sorry state of the patent system and how companies like Apple and Microsoft are resorting to patent suits on account of their inability to compete with Android. Never mind the fact that Android is only where it’s at because Google doesn’t take the intellectual property of others that seriously. Just ask Oracle.

But that’s an article for another time.

One of the top features in the iPhone 4S is Siri. With Siri, users can use voice recognition to make phone calls, send text messages, schedule appointments, and of course, query the web. In doing so, Siri has the potential to serve as a serious replacement for mobile Google searches when it comes to certain types of queries like weather, nearby food locations and information easily obtained from Wolfram Alpha. As Apple expands the number of integrated databases Sir can access, one can reasonably argue that mobile Google searches from iPhone users will increasingly be pushed to the side.

Google of course doesn’t agree. Or maybe it does. You see, Google categorizes Siri as it sees fit to achieve a particular interest. A few weeks ago Android chief Andy Rubin said he wasn’t especially impressed with Siri.

“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant,” Rubin said. “Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”

But ask Eric Schmidt, and he believes Siri poses a serious threat.

In written statements made to the U.S. Sentate antitrust subcommittee, Schmidt labeled Siri as a “significant development” in search that might threaten Google’s core search business.

Of course, it’s hard to take this terribly seriously as its in Google’s best interest to play up the threat posed by Siri now that we live in a world where Google unequivocally dominates the search business.

“Even in the few weeks since the hearing, Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S,” Schmidt explained. Schmidt later referenced a publication which referred to Siri as Apple’s “entry point” into the search engine business and another which called Siri a “Google killer.”

And because Google has many search competitors (Bing, Yahoo!) and also competes against specialized search engines such as WebMD and Wikipedia, Schmidt boldly stated “I would disagree that Google is dominant [in search].”

Way to play coy there.

Schmidt’s full response can be viewed here on Google Docs.


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