Google chairman Schmidt: ‘Siri poses a competitive threat’

7 Nov 2011

Google chairman Eric Schmidt

Even through Apple’s voice-based artificial intelligence system Siri combines searches from various sources like Yelp and Wolfram Alpha, it poses a competitive threat to Google, the search giant’s chairman Eric Schmidt told a US Senate antitrust subcommittee.

In recent years, the late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs had warned Schmidt he would go “thermonuclear” and use every dollar at Apple’s disposal because he believed Google’s Android operating system had copied the iPhone and it looks like Siri is part of that answer.

It is strange Google considers it a competitive threat when you consider Google has its own search technology and Apple doesn’t necessarily.

Also, Google has a range of voice-recognition technologies at its disposal for search, translation and dictation. Surely, Siri can’t be that much of a threat, can it?

In a letter to the subcommittee, Schmidt wrote: “Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S.”

Schmidt described Siri as a significant development that demonstrates the innovations in search.

His comments are clearly calculated at highlighting the competitive landscape in which Google operates and he cited other search engines like Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo! as examples, not to mention social networks like Twitter and Facebook, mobile apps and navigation devices.

But all told, Siri clearly has Google worried.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years