How Far Will Apple Develop Siri?

Some US-based survey findings were released yesterday that show iPhone 4S owners use Siri regularly but only in limited ways. The survey of 482 iPhone 4S owners by Parks Associates reflected that people used Siri almost daily in many instances to send email, initiate calls and send texts. Other types of "more advanced" activities were not performed as often (e.g. setting up appointments or playing music).

Here's a very high-level overview of the findings: 

  • 87% of respondents reported using Siri at least once a month
  • Roughly one third of iPhone 4S owners said they used Siri "almost daily"
  • Initiating calls and texts were the most common Siri-related activities; 26% said they used Siri for email daily
  • 55% were satisifed with Siri, 9% were not; others were in-between

Previously a ChangeWave survey in December found that Siri was the most "liked" feature of the new iPhone 4S. 

Siri is clearly a work in progress; Apple has a "beta" label on it. Apple's chief mobile rival Google is working on its own "assistant" to compete with Siri. The rumor is that will include APIs for third party developers. So Google may out-Siri Siri if Apple doesn't keep moving. 

The question now for Apple is how much to develop Siri into a broader utility and search or content discovery tool. 

Apple removed Siri's earlier “transactional” capabilities, present in the app before Apple bought the company. Those earlier capabilities hint at what's possible. In other words, tapping directly into third party APIs to deliver content results and transactional pages without the interim step of a "search result." This was Siri's ambition when Apple bought the company. But will Apple press on? 

In an ideal world Siri would develop into a kind of universal interface for finding and downloading apps, generating queries within apps on the handset ("Find me a flight from NY to Boston on Kayak on April 18") and perhaps initiating payments. 

Clearly there are flaws in Siri's performance and it's imperfect, but it has enormous potential to be more than it is. I'm hopeful that Apple continues to invest in and develop Siri -- to help it realize its pre-Apple vision.