When Apple announced the iPhone 4S, the company touted the phone’s faster processor and improved camera. It took a deep dive into Messages, Newsstand, notifications and the many new features of iOS 5.
But what Apple concentrated on most was Siri, the iPhone’s virtual assistant. Built on the foundation of artificial intelligence technology developed from the CALO project, Siri takes natural language and turns it into action. Weather reports, calendar appointments, text messages, among other things, are all accessible just by talking to Siri.
Without a doubt, Siri is the most prominent new feature of the iPhone 4S. Yet, when I visited the line outside Apple’s flagship San Francisco store, not a single person mentioned it as the reason they were buying the new iPhone.
I asked at least two dozen people in line, “What is the number one reason you’re in line to buy the new iPhone?” Answers almost universally fell into four categories:
I have an iPhone 3G/3GS, and it’s time to upgrade.
I have (insert dumbphone model here), and it’s time to upgrade.
I lost my iPhone 4, and I need a new iPhone.
I want the better camera.
Nobody mentioned Siri as their primary reason for getting the phone. That’s something we should all have expected. Siri is one of those features you have to use to fully understand and appreciate. You only grasp just what it can do for your life once you start playing with it — and this my experience when I tried it out.
Nobody is buying the iPhone 4S for Siri. But once they start using the phone and experience its artificial intelligence capabilities for themselves, they will be hooked. Siri will be the reason a lot of people will love — and not just like — the new iPhone. In two years, when they’re ready to buy a new phone, they’re going to get an iPhone because Siri has changed how they fundamentally perceive their phones.