Siri, advertising and reality

In light of all the brouhaha over Google’s supposed changes to how they do search that the Wall Street Journal published yesterday it’s rather interesting that one of the new faces of search, Apple’s Siri, is in the headlines as well. Some of them read:

Siri Lawsuit: Apple Being Sued for Misleading Siri Commercials
Apple Sued Over Siri’s Shortcomings
Apple Siri Lawsuit: Is ‘False and Misleading’ Accusation a Growing Sign of Disenchantment With Tech Giant?

There’s more. Just, ironically enough, Google the term Siri lawsuit and see.

The gist of the complaint is that Siri simply doesn’t work as advertised. It’s slower than the commercials say (although in the final few seconds of the commercial you see the “Sequences are shortened” very small print disclaimer at the bottom of the screen, which is the advertising code for CYA). It’s not as accurate as depicted (what is these days?). You name it, it will likely appear in the lawsuit.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that this lawsuit is a good thing or that it even has legal merit. What it does do though is make one think about the morals and ethics of a company that would simply misrepresent itself in ads so it can sell more. Considering what we know about Steve Jobs and the depth of his moral fiber (he wasn’t a real nice guy according to his authorized biography) this kind of behavior makes sense.

What the company has done as well is pull the old Google trick and slap a beta tag on Siri. Google left those tags on Gmail for years just so they could more easily whisk away complaints about performance. It’s a lot easier to hide behind an “It’s in beta!” statement than actually owning up to the shortcomings of the service. Eventually Google dropped that practice because people are just smarter than that and tired of the game.

Now we see Apple doing similar things and doing whatever they can to sell the next generation of their products. The iPhone 4S had some improvements over the iPhone 4 but Siri was the big differentiator. It was the selling point. And, according to many, it doesn’t work like you think it should considering its presentation in ads. Honestly, if we are naive enough to accept advertising as a final word on a product there is an element of “shame on us” involved here as well. Have you noticed some of the same feelings are happening regarding the new iPad as well? Hmmmmmm.

But everyone’s favorite pastime these days is firing flaming arrows and bazookas at Google. Apple usually gets a free pass while Google gets hammered. Most of this happens within the not-so-friendly confines of the industry press so the regular folks of the world tend to not know that these issues exist. (Nor do they care much when they find out the news.”)

In the end, this is all about technology. Technology is fickle and constantly changing. It works and then it doesn’t. We believe one thing but experience another. It’s a familiar song. One that I have grown accustomed to and now, after considerable practice, I ignore almost completely. I don’t believe ads by Apple or anyone for that matter. They are like company websites.

Would any company advertise its shortcomings or put them on their own website? No, of course not. As a result, I just take everything with more than one grain of salt. It’s safer that way. I will never be an early adopter on technology gadgets. What’s the point? I suspect I could survive for quite some time with my current phone and be fine for quite some time. I know I will be until at least September when my contract is up with Verizon. Do I NEED Siri? The short answer is a simple no. heck, the long answer is no.

So, in the end, it comes down to individual intellect and discernment. I choose to see all tech advertising as pollyanna-ish and not real. You can take everything in–hook, line and sinker if you like. It’s a free country in the US. Of course, if you don’t know what to do you could find someone with an iPhone 4S and ask Siri.

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