Speaking at the D10 conference in Southern California last night Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about, among other things, Siri. He characterized the speech-based virtual assistant as the most popular feature of the most popular smartphone in the world.
In response to the criticism that it isn't up to Apple's usual product standard, he said "There's more than it can do and we have a lot of people working on this" and implied that there would be more functionality or more capabilities available relatively soon.
Cook said "Siri's proven to us that people want to relate to the phone in a different way." He explained, "What really makes Siri cool is that she has a personality." He predicted that people would be "Pleased with where we're taking Siri," adding "We see unbelievable potential here." Cook's final remark on the subject was the tech-gambling cliche, "We're doubling down on it."
Apple's "WWDC" developer conference is coming up next month. Improvements or expanded capabilities for Siri are one of the likely announcements. We've written at length about Siri and its pre-Apple model and trajectory (on this blog and privately for clients).
There are now a wide range of "virtual assistants" in market for consumers and enterprises. Just released last week was another one called Kngine. It joins Speaktoit ("Assistant"), Iris, Cluzee, Evi and multiple enterprise virtual assistants from companies such as Indisys, Anboto, NextIT and multiple others. Putting aside those on the enterprise side Siri remains the most visible and probably the most effective of the bunch, despite some flaws and limitations -- although Speaktoit's Assistant is very good and has a customizable avatar.
Siri's mainstream presence has helped bring ordinary consumer awareness to speech recognition and galvanize an industry segment around the concept of the virtual assistant. This will have major enterprise customer care implications "going forward."
Siri has indeed changed the way that many people interact with their phones and has made speech as an input a much more important UI consideration across devices, including TVs and cars (see Nuance).