Apple May Use Siri to Enter Search, Google Says

Google says Apple’s Siri technology threatens its search business, highlighting how voice technology is transforming search and potentially challenging Google’s market dominance.
Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt said Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant technology, Siri, is a “significant development” and may compete with Google’s core business, according to a statement to the U.S. Senate antitrust committee.
In support of his statement, Schmidt cited publications that called Siri a “Google Killer” and Apple’s “entry point” into the search engine business.
This statement reverses Schmidt’s assertion last year that Apple posed no danger to his company’s number-one status in search.
But Apple’s introduction of Siri on the iPhone 4S, as well as his company’sincreased scrutiny by federal regulators for antitrust activity may have reversed Schmidt’s thinking.
Schmidt’s statement downplayed Google’s position and drew attention to search competitors, including Bing and Yahoo as well as Siri. Schmidt may be looking to prove the existence of competition in the search engine market and downplay his own company’s dominance of it by highlighting his rivals’ strengths.
Senators involved in the antitrust case maintain that Google’s 65 percent market share of U.S. Internet searches, 94 percent share of the European search market and 97 percent share of smartphone searches worldwide may approach monopoly status.
In response to these charges, Google has sent mixed messages concerning Apple and Siri, alternately dismissing the technology as insignificant and holding it up as technology that threatens its own position as search leader.
Siri’s voice-activated search technology can’t approach Google’s market share just yet, but it may represent a shift in how users conduct future searches, lessening their dependence on browser-based search engines like Google’s. Siri uses patented “artificial intelligence” voice search capabilities, so when users speak into their iPhone, the software can go beyond following rudimentary commands to provide deep, contextual search capabilities.
Google is improving voice recognition on its Android OS, seeking to add ability to understand more than simple voice commands in an effort to catch up with Apple. The company has also made forays into visual search with its Goggles app, which allows Android users to snap smartphone photos of an object to receive information about it or to translate words and phrases.
Schmidt’s statement may draw attention away from Google’s overpowering market dominance in search, but as technologies like Siri continue to change the way people conduct searches, the company may need to boost its own innovation to stay on top of the market.
This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.
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