Jon Friedman's Media Web
Apple's iPhone hype: Siri is all hot air5/25/12 5/25/2012 (MarketWatch)
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- A few weeks ago, I accidentally dropped my 19-month-old iPhone on the concrete jungle of Manhattan. As I surveyed the damage, one word dominated my thoughts: "Upgrade!"
So several hundreds of dollars later, I left the
I admit it: I had been dazzled by those catchy television commercials showing tough-talking actor Samuel L. Jackson and the ever-adorable actress/singer Zooey Deschanel doing their mundane household chores assisted by Siri, the voice-activated system on the new iPhone.
In other words, I bought the Apple-generated hype. I was a sucker.
You see, I have been disillusioned by Siri. It strikes me as some kind of gimmick for self-indulgent people with a tremendous amount of time on their hands.
Siri has been around for a few months by now, long enough for the service to establish a reputation.
Perhaps Apple frets that I'm not alone in my ambivalence and it's pulling out the big guns to make this feature look as appealing as possible. And, gee, they're regular folks, just like us. Sam Jackson is making dinner for his date, while Zooey is dancing around to "Shake, Rattle and Roll."
Me, I'm not cooking or dancing.
I asked the kinds of questions-for-a-rainy-day you might ask Siri, more out of boredom than outright curiosity. For instance, I wondered aloud (of course): "How many Beatles songs did Ringo Starr sing?"
I was referred to a Web search, and this was the usual response.
Another gripe of mine is that Siri doesn't offer the kind of instantaneous response that Sam and Zooey received on TV.
I'm not even sure, upon further review, what I'd need Siri for anyway.
Perhaps Siri is mostly meant to be a fun kind of time-suck. But it's not fun to ask questions and not get helpful responses.
And while we're at it, I am getting sick of the grating sound of her voice, too. (Yes, now it's all on the table).
No doubt, Siri has her core fans. Some folks love the novelty of talking to a phone and getting a response.
What's next for Siri?
Apple picked actor John Malkovich to be the new Siri pitchman.
The two Malkovich commercials are being called Joke and Life. Joke shows a suited Malkovich seated alone in a room listening to opera (natch), PCMag.com, pointed out, holding his trusty white iPhone 4S. He initially asks Siri for restaurant and weather information and then asks her to tell him a joke. He responds by laughing enigmatically (natch).
Is Malkovich the right choice?.
"Some hardcore Malkovich fans will take offense and see those new commercials as Apple's attempt to turn an alt-culture icon into a mainstream sellout," PCMag.com has noted. "In fact, on YouTube, the videos have already garnered a noticeable amount of 'dislike' votes from some viewers."
Maybe Siri, it's me, not you. I'm willing to take some of the responsibility for our problems. Granted, I am not communicating well with you, so far. I am failing to tell you how to fulfill my goals for us. It doesn't take a Siri relationship counselor at the Genius Bar of an Apple store to deduce that I don't yet understand how to maximize this feature on the new phone. Even so, I'm not alone.
I recently visited a few Apple stores in Manhattan. Some employees let slip that they've been hearing an increasing amount of Siri flak.
As my friend Adam told me: "Actually, I hate Siri. She is no help (and) always goes into a Web search." Siri, he concluded, "is not like they show you on TV."
The Siri flak is coming from other sources, too. IBM (IBM) has banned employees from using Siri because it transmits data to Apple's servers, creating possible security leaks for the proprietary IBM data, IBM Chief Information Officer Jeanette Horan told MIT's Technology Review.
Hmm. Maybe, Siri, it's not me. Maybe it is you, after all.
MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Are the people who believed the Siri hype merely a bunch of suckers or is this the cutting edge of future Apple breakthroughs?
What do you think? Please feel free to post your comment below.