When I first played around with Siri a year or so ago, back when it was still an iPhone app, my initial reaction was "Wow. This is the Jetsons. Now."
The only problem was, it didn't really work. It made a lot of mistakes and eventually it started to feel like using AOL to check the weather circa 1993 - I could run upstairs, find a Zagat's and look up a restaurant in less time. (Not to mention clicking on over to Yelp.)
Still, the idea itself was pretty seriously breakthrough and I wasn't surprised to read that Apple had snatched it up.
The Siri that Apple released with the iPhone 4S is a huge step forward from where they were last year, but it's still not there yet.
And that's a problem, because aside from Apple fanboys and tech bloggers, voice recognition is the sort of thing that doesn't get a second chance.
People will play with Siri for a while - there's a meme floating around the internet about Siri suggesting escort services when someone complained about being horny- no doubt to be followed by similar memes-- but the third time your average user says "sushi" and Siri shows them "slushy," it's going to be relegated to the Fun Toys category rather than Useful Tools.
Voice recognition is one of those categories where we've been disappointed for so long by products that make things more, rather than less, complicated, or that need "training" we're unlikely to give them a second chance.
That said, I'm still very intrigued by the possibilities of Siri and similar technology. But only when they finally get the whole voice recognition thing right.
You can also see me at DCM East in New York, tomorrow, October 13th at the Millennium Broadway Hotel, where I’ll be acting as emcee and leading the afternoon panels on Monetizing Social Media and Creating An Online Community
As TV and the web finally come crashing together-- what with Cablevision announcing that they'll offer Netflix and Hulu via their set top boxes, and Netflix looking to revive Arrested Development-- the next big battle between the analog and digital worlds looms: who is going to serve up the advertising in this new era?
In one corner, you have the traditional TV buying giants, companies like MediaVest. who are tied into the ad agencies via their common holding companies. And in the other corner, you have the big web-ad buying services like Double-Click, who also have cozy relationships with ad agencies.
I'm not placing any bets here, as the new market has yet to fully develop. But at some point we're going to get to a place where 30 second commercials are being served up during a program being streamed from a website somewhere and both sides are going to think they should, by rights, be the one serving it up.
As the convergence happens, the level of data available to media buyers will greatly improve. They'll know your previous viewing patters, what times and shows commercials for a specific brand are likely to be watched or ignored, whether a show has High Social or Low Social content, even how often your IP address has been served a specific commercial.
Now which side is best positioned to take advantage of this new data is not clear. Which makes this one to watch.