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

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.