Google’s chairman and former chief executive, Eric Schmidt recently admitted to the U.S Senate antitrust subcommittee that Siri is a “significant development” in search, potentially posing a threat to his company’s core business. This was all said in the form of a statement to the subcommittee in response to questions from the senators after hearing in September, as noted by the folks over at Neowin
. The remarks should be taken with a grain of salt though as the purpose for the letter was to downplay Google’s prominence and highlight the company’s competitors.
Schmidt made sure to call out Siri as a new development that might hurt Google’s search engine. "Even in the few weeks since the hearing, 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," he wrote. He even went as far as calling Siri a “Google killer” and Apple’s “entry point” into the search engine business in two of his publications.
I can see where one might argue that Siri has potential for hurting Google’s search as users can ask Siri a question and receive an answer without actually having to go to Google’s site specifically (thus avoiding advertisements – which plays a role in Google’s profits) but calling it a “Google killer” is a bit absurd. It seems that Schmidt just seems to be downplaying Google’s dominance in search and making it seem like other companies (it’s competitors) are more prominent than they really are. There is no denying that Siri has been a huge success but I don’t think it is in any way, shape, or form, going to cause a large dent in Google’s dominance (at least not for a while if at all).
The letter from Schmidt was written in a different stand point from a previous statement he made in September 2010, where he denied that Apple and Facebook were a “competitive threat.” He is now going as far as saying “My statement was clearly wrong. Apple’s Siri is a significant development - a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search."
He now claims that "Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information," noting that Google competes against search engines (Microsoft's Bing, Yahoo!), specialized search engines (Kayak, Amazon, WebMD, eBay), social networks (Facebook, Twitter), commercial software companies (Apple, Microsoft), mobile apps and direct navigation.
What makes the situation even more ironic is that Google executives continue to send out mixed signals. Just last month Android chief Andy Rubin dismissed Siri saying that he doesn’t believe phones should be assistants and doubted whether people should communicate with their phones. It seems to me that Google is just confused as to how to approach the market since the release of the iPhone 4S.
Schmidt went as far as denying Google having a “dominant position in the smartphone market” citing a recent comScore report
, which stated that “Android operates on only 34.1% while Apple’s iOS runs on 43.1%” This comes as a disappointment to many who claim Android is a dominant winner in the market. What makes this a bit more entertaining is that his comment is misleading as comScore’s figures relate to the whole mobile and connected device market. The difference comes into play with Apple having an unchallenged lead in the tablet market, where Android tablets aren’t very successful. Schmidt attributes Google’s success to hard work and good luck, while the senators continue to maintain that Google’s 65% market share of all U.S internet searches, 94% share of the European Market, and 97% of all smartphone searches give it a substantial market power that approaches a monopoly.
What do you think of the whole ordeal? There is no denying that Siri has been a huge success, but I really doubt it’s been successful to the point where Google’s market share of internet searches would decline drastically. I can see where Siri may be Apple’s entry point into the search market but I think Schmidt is making some pretty absurd claims. Share your opinion below!