I was recently in Las Vegas for Pubcon 2011, where there were a lot of discussions about how social media and other new technologies are changing the way people search for information. One of the big threats currently is Siri. It could be some time before Siri could be a serious threat, but the possibility is out there.
Since Siri is only available for the Iphone 4S and not everyone has one, there isn’t too much to worry about right now, but what if Apple licenses it out to other developers for their own apps or if Siri gets licensed to other platforms? I can’t imagine Apple actually letting anyone else use Siri, but if suddenly everyone was using it, would many people still bother with doing a Google search on their mobile?
At the moment Siri is only really useful if you live in the US. Whilst at Pubcon I actually set my Iphone 4S to American English so that I could make proper use of the service and asked Siri how to get to some of our destinations and also got Siri to show me lists of the nearest Best Buy and Fry’s stores. It was a pretty rewarding experience — currently you cannot ask Siri location-based questions in Australia, so to us Siri is mostly just a novelty rather than something useful for actual searches.
Over time, Siri will update and evolve so the rest of us can use it for location based services which could make a big impact on local searches, but due to the many languages and accents around the world it could be several years until everyone will be able to search with Siri to its full potential. Currently Siri can only be set English for Australia, UK and USA as well as French and German, but it can be expected that many more countries will get Siri over time. Australia will be able to ask location-based questions in 2012.