Study Hints At Long-Term Siri Threat To Google In Mobile

Apple Insider is reporting, based on a study by investment firm Piper Jaffray, that Siri today (iOS 6) relies on Google considerably less than it did in iOS 5.

That’s partly a result of the switch from Google’s local data in Maps to Apple’s own mapping data. However another part of the change is probably the addition of more non-Google sources of structured data to support Siri.

In Piper Jaffray’s previous study it found that Siri used Google or Google data to answer 60 percent of queries. Now that number has dropped to 30 percent. The chart below (via Apple Insider) illustrates who “wins” and who “loses” under the new regime:

While the methodology here isn’t entirely clear, one of the interesting findings is that a substantial percentage of Siri-initiated queries are local (Apple Maps, Yelp). It’s also not clear how Yelp is being counted (probably as part of queries to Apple Maps). Accordingly, it’s hard to reliably say something like “X percent of Siri queries are local” from this data.

Piper Jaffray also compared the accuracy of Siri vs. Google Now/Voice Search and found that the services were almost comparable, with Siri being slightly more accurate:

“It appears the two voice assistants are comparable to one another in terms of understanding the spoken query and returning the correct result,” Munster wrote. “In our test, Siri correctly understood our queries 91% of the time in a quiet environment compared to Google Now at 88%. In terms of accuracy, we determined that Siri accurately answered understood queries 77% of the time compared to 75% for Google now.”

Opus Research (which I work with) conducted a survey earlier this year, prior to the release of iOS 6, asking about Siri usage as a search substitute. In some percentage of cases people were using Siri instead of Google, though Google (in its various mobile flavors) was overwhelmingly the way these survey respondents found things.

Question: Which of the following do you use MOST OFTEN to search the web on your phone?  (n=503 iPhone 4S owners):

  1. Google.­com — 44.9 percent
  2. Search from the Safari toolbar — 26.4 percent
  3. Google mobile app — 19.3 percent
  4. Siri — 11.1 percent
  5. Bing and/or Yahoo — 6.6 percent

Multiple answers were permitted, which is why the numbers add up to more than 100 percent.

In the above, Google is likely responsible for about about 91 percent of mobile search queries (assuming that Google is the default on Safari for the overwhelming majority). This figure consistent with mobile search market-share data from StatCounter.

The data above argue that if Apple continues to invest in Siri and Maps it could capture more local queries at a minimum — and potentially a broader range of queries that would otherwise have gone to Google.

Related Topics: Apple: Maps | Apple: Siri | Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Google: Mobile | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • dang1

    As more and more people use Android compared to iPhone, Google’s gonna care less and less

  • keaner

    This is also the same firm that thinks Apple will hit 900$/share in 2013. Oh and chart was provided by “Apple Insider” . Enough said

  • MicroSourcing

    To better frame the study, we need to ask how instrumental Siri has been to Apple’s success so that it actually poses a threat to Apple’s rivals.

  • Andrew Shotland

    Correctly understanding queries and accuracy of results are important, but for me right now speed is the #1 factor. And Google blows Siri away in that department.

  • muhamad fawad

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  • AK

    It is amazing how the discussion has changed form “Google is catching up but Apple is too far ahead” to “Apple can compete with Google in the long term”. Considering the head start Apple had with Siri and the loads of usage data it must have gathered to optimize the service, it is a testament to Google that it leapfrogged ahead with it’s first release.

    The innovation going on in the Android world, both on the hardware and software side, is leaving Apple to stagnate. If this continues, the distance between iOS and Android can only increase with iOS standing still and Android moving far ahead. The difference in innovation is as it should be. The success of iOS only benefits Apple. The success of Android is tied to the success of a number of third parties. And there is no restrictions on who can get on the bandwagon or choose what direction they want to take.

    No doubt Apple did a great service to consumers by actualizing a product that demonstrated that we can truly get quality and usability that we desire. But that was 5 years back, and not much has changed in it’s world since then. Some might say it is because of the perfection of their product. I’m not sure that is the case anymore. I’d say it was purely due to lock in. With Google providing a better alternative, and the lock in no longer as relevant, Apple has to get back into gear. Closing the walled garden further is not the answer (Stone walling competitive offerings on the platform, Limiting access to OS resources to cripple third party apps).

    Even developers are figuring out that it is a lot easier and smoother to develop and publish for Android than it is for iOS. It’s the whole Mac – PC thing all over again. This time, however, Google has the better product in addition to the open platform. Can’t see how Apple can continue to succeed with iOS unless it radically changes the structure of it’s relationship with third parties. Considering their history (Mac Clones) this is highly unlikely. Oh well, all I can say is so long and thanks for all the shake ups.

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