Mobile phones are still on a growth spurt throughout world. With our phones by our sides at all times, virtual assistants can gain traction and become a critical part of how we function and utilize technology. The point of technology is to make things easier and more efficient for us, right?
With the introduction of Siri, Apple's new virtual assistant platform for iPhones, the bet for the future is on! If you're thinking "Why does this matter? Speech recognition and task dictation is nothing new," you're absolutely right. However, there is one great differentiating factor in that Siri is the first to actually understand what you mean. Rather than passing blunt commands, you talk to it and hold a conversation. More after the jump...
Siri board member and investor, Gary Morgenthaler, says that Siri challenges the very nature of Google's search domain and shakes it down to the foundation. Siri would directly connect users to merchants, services, and content providers to bypass the ad-ridden, blue link results frenzy that is Google. What can/will Google do to adapt to this paradigm change? Publicly denying it can't be right, can it?
"Google has made a huge contribution to all of our lives … they’ve made search comprehensive and instantaneous … but the whole paradigm is wrong,” he says. “People don’t want a million blue links, they want one correct answer. All the rest is noise that you’d rather have go away."
Having said that, where do advertisers fall into the picture? The competitive nature of keywords and search terms is virtually eliminated in favor of directly connecting users to very specific providers of services and products. In a CNET interview, Morgenthaler states:
"Because Siri provides that semantic layer that can take you all the way to the specific goal you are seeking, cost-per-action ads become much more achievable for service providers--in this case, Apple--and also for e-commerce sites. If you're an e-commerce site, why do you want to sprinkle ads everywhere in hopes of bringing someone in the funnel if you have someone right here who wants to make a transactions?"
If search for knowledge, information, and solutions become so linear and specific, how will "discovery" be handled? We often learn and find things through search that we generally wouldn't if single answers were always given. Will this in turn make us lazy, or smarter and more productive? Could Siri promote curiosity by providing various answers and "suggestions" for our requests? If so, then Google can remain relevant in the future, but with a few tweaks.
While Siri sounds and performs impressively, it's important to note that the current implementation is relatively de-featured compared to what Siri used to do when it was just a downloadable app. Once Apple opens the APIs for Siri, the possibilities are endless, just as Apple opened up the iPhone to software developers. Targeted queries vs. general search, will be the name of the game.
Will searching the "old school" way start to vanish with the presence of Siri and the likes to come? Will virtual libraries and encyclopedias be accessible through an artificially intelligent computer, allowing new ways of learning and discovering knowledge?
Please share your views of the future in the comments below.