In a recent appearance before a Senate subcommittee that investigates whether or not Google is abusing its dominant position on the web, Eric Schmidt has declared that he sees Apple’s voice-assistant named Siri as a “significant development” that could threaten Google. “Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information.” he says. Schmidt adds that his previous statements dismissing Facebook and Apple as competitors were “clearly wrong”. Is it true, or is it part of the show have the Senate off Google’s back? Let’s take a look.
Point of entry
If you think of it, it’s true that while Siri is not a search engine, it can be a point of entry for search. Instead of going to a particular site, users ask Siri to perform a search for them – then Siri pretty much decides where to search. For instance, Siri uses a number of web services (like Yelp) to provide answers.
In some ways it is technically possible that Siri uses Google one day, and Bing the next, it could also strike a balance between the two, depending on Apple’s desire. In short, if Siri’s adoption was ubiquitous, Apple could technically make Google irrelevant.
Still dominating web search
But as popular as Siri is, its effectiveness is only as good as the results that it provides, and I bet that Apple has chosen to use Google search, it’s because it provides the best search results today. Also, the alternative is Bing/Microsoft, which is also Apple’s arch-rival.
While Siri has a (very) remote potential for being a threat to Google, this is mostly science fiction today. It is more likely that the immediate danger would be that Apple decides to favor Bing on all its platforms (iOS and Mac OS) but even then, the danger would be very remote, for now.
As for Facebook, despite its popularity and many theories that pit it as a “human search”, there is no evidence that this is affecting Google one bit. Despite its enormous size and market share, Google has continue to grow in traffic as more of the world’s population gets on the internet. And with the growing market share of Android, there’s no end in sight.
Yes, Siri “could” threaten Google, like an asteroid “could” destroy life as we know today. I think that Calling Siri, or Facebook, a “serious” threat to Google seems a bit exaggerated right now. It may be that Eric Schmidt tries to downplay Google’s strength at a time where the government thinks it has too much power.
What’s your take? Do you believe that Siri and Facebook are a “serious threat” to Google?