Tag Archives: iPhone

Want To Know What The Next Generation of Apps Will Be Like? Talk to Siri

Article first published as Want To Know What The Next Generation of Apps Will Be Like? Talk to Siri on Technorati.

A lot of people asked me why I upgraded to the iPhone 4S. The reason I gave—before I upgraded—was to get its new 8-megapixel camera. However, the reason I would now give—after I upgraded—is to get Siri.

jane-jetson-280pxwIt is really easy to think of Siri as a “toy”, something that lets you perform a few simple “parlor tricks” with your voice (instead of you fingers). It’s not. In reality, Siri a huge step forward into the world of the next generation of Post-PC Era interface. I know, this statement sounds a little overblown and buzz-wordy. However, it’s rather clear if you step back and look at the trends in computing that have developed since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007:

The iPhone: Life Is Integrated

While the iPhone was not the first integrated smartphone (or even the first capacitive touch phone), it was the first smartphone that made integration “of everything” easy and intuitive. You could manage your phone calls, contact lists, texting, email, web browsing, navigation, picture and photo albums in one simple, intuitive device—using the best tool known to man: your fingers. Better yet, the iPhone recognized that life always offers new opportunities. It enabled you to add new capabilities (i.e., Apps) created by others just as easily as you would add songs to your music library.

The changes since the iPhone’s introduction have been enormous. Smartphone growth since 2007 has outpaced growth of the Internet, TV or radio. Capacitive touch interfaces are now mainstream (well beyond iOS). App Stores are not just exploding, they are becoming the mainstream way to get software.

The iPad: Life Is Beyond the PC

This success of the iPhone paved the way to the iPad, the first mainstream market capacitive touch tablet. While many tablets were launched before the iPad, none of them became “must have” ubiquitous devices. The impact of the iPad has been even larger than that of the iPhone. It has heralded talk of a new Post-PC Era. It had grown even faster than iPad. Competitors have released over 100 products—in less than two years—to compete with it. A whole new generation of touch-based apps have been created to tap this grow, from industries as diverse as startups to old media to medicine.

However, the iPad has not quite “closed the door” on PCs yet. The “$64‑Billion Question” I always hear is, “iPads are great, but people are going to still need to enter text. How will they do that without a real keyboard?” Yes, tablets are “re-wiring” how we interact with “information devices” (f.k.a. PCs). Yes, many creative apps have shown that tablets can be used to create content in ways that keyboards cannot. Nevertheless, these techniques have still not yet answered the $64‑Billion Question. Now, Siri provides the answer.

Siri: Life Doesn’t Need a Keyboard

What iPhone did for smartphones, Siri will do for voice-based recognition and interaction. It is the first application that makes integrated voice interaction with multiple applications (phone, texting, pictures, email, web, picture and music album management) easy and finger-free (touch screen- and keyboard- free). The idea of being able to replace what you did with your hands with your voice is no longer a concept—it is real. Ellis Hamburger of Business Insider recently wrote how surprisingly much this changes your entire way of interacting with information devices, after just two weeks of use.

However, this is just the beginning of much more to come. The introduction of Siri to the (“not a major upgrade,” “limited market”) iPhone 4S triggers two important steps. First, it begins “training early adopters” in voice-driven interaction (while simultaneously creating “buzz” for everyone else). Second, it gives Apple valuable data needed to fully achieve a best-in-class voice-driven usability experience on a much broader scale in “major” product releases.

From, here we will see five things to come—by the end of 2012:

1. Massively Expanded Siri on iPad 3. Apple will launch a massively expanded version of Siri on the iPad 3, drawing upon its much bigger screen and integration with your home or office. Imagine people able to dictate documents, letters, etc. with nice formatting, watching the screen type faster than you can. Imagine extending this music, video, family photo albums, controls for your home, etc.

2. New Siri SDK for iOS. In combination with release of the iPad 3 (or iPhone 5), Apple will release a SDK to enable all developers (not just a select few partners) to build voice interactive applications on the iPhone, iPad, and (maybe) Apple TV. This will create an…

3. Explosion of New Voice-driven Apps. Just as the iPhone and iPad app stores created an explosion of mobile- and touch-based Apps, the Siri SDK will do the same for voice-driven applications. This creativity will yield more ideas that any one company or person could conceive of on their own.

4. Renewed Innovation from the Competition. The millions of people downloading voice-driven apps for their iPhones and iPads will be too attractive a market for competitors to ignore. They will develop voice-driven applications, SDKs and markets of their own. Google will be a major player (given their work in voice-driven search) ensuring the “iOS vs. Android” fight continues its intensity.

5. Smartphones Will Improve Microphone Quality. Human beings are (for now) much better at understanding speech than computers are. We are all now trained to “fill in the gaps” of things we cannot hear on poor-quality mobile phone calls. Voice-driven computer apps are going to take a long time to catch up. As a result, Apple, Google and Microsoft will drive handset providers to improve microphone clarity—making smartphones better for all.

By 2013, new applications will look (and sound) very little like they do today (let alone how they did in 2007). Of course the challenge at this point will be figuring out how can we all hear ourselves over everyone talking to his or her devices. I’m sure someone will figure out an app for that.

Turning a product “miss” into a CRM “hit” – The iPhone 4 and the Kin

This week, Microsoft and Apple both announced what many would refer to as “misses” in their mobile device product lines.

misses-200x111Microsoft cancelled their Kin social media telephone product line (less than six weeks after launching it). Apple admitted to flaws in its signal meter of its iPhone 4 (and all other prior iPhones). However, it has countered industry and consumer reports regarding problems with its newly redesigned antenna—one that many customers are purchasing of a USD $30 case (or bumper in the UK) to mitigate.

Both of these situations have led to stories in both the tradition and social media that raise a common points: consumers feel as if they have been let down by a established company they trusted enough to invest money in a newly-released product. This is a classic customer relationship management (CRM) miss that reduces customer loyalty. However it is one that both companies can easily repair in a way that restores long-term trust.

What I would do if I were at Microsoft

Microsoft is investing heavily in a revamp of its new Windows Mobile line. (This is the very reason they gave for ending the Kin). Take advantage of this by sending all customers who bought a Kin a coupon that lets them obtain a free new Windows Mobile smart phone if they pick from a list of specified (partner) providers and continue their contract through completion.

This would let Microsoft provide a high cash-equivalent (i.e., retail price of the phones) offer for a fraction of the price (the true external cost of the phone after removal of partner revenue sharing). It would transform legitimately disgruntled customers into potential evangelists of their new strategic products. It would also restore trust: customers would see very clearly that buying a new Microsoft mobile product is a safe thing to do.

What I would do if I were at Apple

The Apple situation is complicated by a two contradictions: 1) Apple’s testing indicates that signal meter problems exists but the antenna problem does not, while 2) many of their customers firmly believe there is an antenna problem. Apple does not win by trying to tell customers their belief is wrong (or offering them their money back if they return their new phones within 30 days of purchase). However, there is a simple fix…

Email everyone who bought the iPhone 4 a coupon (an experience well-known at the Apple store) that provides a link to download a the new signal meter fix and provides a USD $30 gift certificate for any product or accessory at the Apple and iTunes stores to compensate them for the signal meter inconvenience. Customers now have the choice to use this to 1) “buy” (for free) the case to “fix” their “antennae problem,” 2) do nothing or 3) use the certificate to buy another product (potentially one more expensive that the gift certificate). By providing customers the power to choose, they can very quickly show good service without engaging in a “perception vs. reality” debate.

The cost and time-sensitivity of restoring customer loyalty

The cost of these actions is low—especially when one considers their true cost (vs. their retail value) and compares this to the overall profit across a smart phone purchase and two-year access plan. The benefits are enormous: good reputation, facilitated upgrade of the book revenue per customer, and conversion of a customer from someone who is likely to turn to a competitor to one who is likely to return. However, achieve this, both of these companies must move quickly, in the next 10 days: before negative experiences become permanent brand opinions.