Siri-ously: Siri’s one advantage gets short shrift

Care about it or not, privacy is an actual advantage.


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It certainly does make an argument easier if you just throw away the main benefits of one of the options. Not that it makes for good analysis.

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and irregular hot dog factory outlet (motto: “Misshapen hot dogs direct to you, cutting out the middle man which, uh, in this case is the FDA”), Jon Markman says “Apple’s Problems Are Worse Than You Think.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Neal Butterfield.)

(Offer void if your last name is Enderle or Dvorak.)

“Worse than you think” is actually pretty timid tilapia coming from a publication that, three years ago, brought us 7 reasons Apple is more doomed than you think. If you’d read nothing but Forbes you’d probably expect Cupertino to be a smoldering crater by now, populated with nothing but angry mutant were-beavers.

Apple is about to become a much less significant consumer electronics business.

Any minute now. Soon. Wait for it. Nnnnnnnnnnow-nope. It’s coming. Hold on. Nnnnnnnnnnnnn-that wasn’t it.

“About to” implies a sense of urgency that is, let’s face it, largely unsupported by the facts. Will it happen sometime? Sure. The Sun’s not going to keep burning forever, people.

The notion that Apple is in decline is not even controversial anymore.

9 out of 10 Forbes contributors who have been saying this since 1977 agree! The other one can’t offer an opinion because he has an entire rotisserie chicken jammed into his mouth. Has since February. His family is starting to get a little worried.

Many longtime Apple proponents have made comparisons to Blackberry.


Well, some.

OK, one, it’s just one. And he was talking about the threat of Apple some day being surpassed like BlackBerry was. But, the big takeaway here is that everyone who used to like Apple now think’s it’s just as dead as BlackBerry. The End.

Apple is in the midst of being blindsided itself by cloud-based, artificially intelligent assistants.

Sure, this situation is exactly comparable to what happened to BlackBerry because Siri is the only thing that Apple makes and intelligent assistants are the only thing that will matter in the future and Apple will never improve things, only its competitors will.

Punditry is easy once you make a bunch of one-sided assumptions!

Siri still doesn’t live in the cloud. By design she lives on the device and has never risen above being more than a feature on a platform.

Siri, of course, is a cloud service—why else does it not work without an Internet connection?—it’s just not one that helps itself to all your cloud data.

Apple executives, especially Tim Cook argue that’s a good thing because it protects privacy. The shortcoming is Siri is neither portable nor scalable.

This is the only time Markman mentions privacy in the whole piece. No mention of Apple’s use of differential privacy and how it’s designed to “[discover] the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy.” Just “Tim Cook says some dumb thing, whatever,” eye roll, rude hand gesture, raspberry.

Privacy is a huge selling point for Apple. People who value their privacy buy the company’s products. So far that’s worked out pretty well.

…you don’t hire assistants because they’re snarky. At some point they have to be able to do the job.

Do you hire assistants to slowly leak your usage patterns to advertisers? Seems like that might be a fireable offense, as long as we’re using the employee analogy.

Google Assistant, for example, skims all of your Google services for ways to help you track appointments, parcels, flights and hotel bookings, sports scores, stock prices, traffic on your morning commute and more.

Oh, good. The Macalope was wondering how he could get Google all that data. So, just use their services to get sprayed in the face by a firehose of targeted advertising, you say? Good to know.

Siri may not be as good as these other systems in some ways, but you don’t get to simply throw out privacy because you don’t care about it. Also, in all the touting of Amazon’s Alexa, the Macalope never sees pundits mention the fact that it only speaks English. Very strange. It’s almost as if they never mention the downsides of competitors’ products, only those of Apple, oh, yeah, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Interestingly, as the Macalope was dissecting this gas-bloated possum carcass, Forbes actually deleted it. So, apparently something was worse than someone thought.

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