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back to article Apple prevails in Siri marketing lawsuit

A US judge has absolved Apple of charges that the company misled users with its Siri advertising campaigns. District Court judge Claudia Wilken has issued a final dismissal of a suit claiming that Apple ran ads which exaggerated the capabilities of its mobile device when Siri was first released in 2011. The judge found in favor …

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In other words:

US judge rules that ads are bullshit, gullible people aghast.

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The suit was obviously without merit

The whole basis of their claim was that they bought the iPhone 4S on the basis of Siri, but if they knew it wasn't as good as the ads implied, they wouldn't have. If you make a purchase decision based on a single feature, you deserve what you get.

I await the lawsuit by 5S owners claiming the only reason they bought it because they believed the fingerprint scanner was infallible security, making it impossible for even the NSA to get into their phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The suit was obviously without merit

So lets take this example:

Ford run a set of adverts showing that their cars were better than anyone else's because they had a unique feature that meant that your car was defrosted and warmed up to a pleasant temperature each and every morning before you went to work and in those ads the "comfort" feature always worked.

You, rightly amazed by this, went out and bought a Ford because this feature made it a better buy than a similar cost / spec car from GM or Honda... and that this feature really was the thing that sealed the deal.

Then you found that actually about 30% of the time you went out to your car in the morning it was still covered in frost and freezing cold.

So you talk to Ford and they say "Well we didn't actually say it worked very well" - despite their adverts indicating that it had a 100% success rate.

You still don't think you've got a right to start legal action based on mis-selling?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The suit was obviously without merit

The fitness for purpose test applies.

You bought a car, it drives. Fit for purpose.

So if you buy a phone with speech recognition and it doesn't work well but still makes phone calls then it is fit for purpose.

If you buy a speech dictation system and that doesn't work then that's obviously not fit for purpose.

A feature that is not part of the primary function of a device will never cause anyone to agree that the device is not fit for purpose.

Sony sold the PS3 with an "other OS" feature that was withdrawn, it still plays games so it was still fit for purpose.

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Ford example

Your argument is that you have multiple cars that are otherwise equal aside from this feature, so if this feature works 70% of the time it is still superior to your other choices. Not as superior as if it worked 100% of the time, true.

But unless Ford's ad specifically stated "you'll never get into a cold car again in your life", simply showing several people happy to find their car is warm when they get into it can't be taken as a guarantee that it always works. Anyone who has experience with seeing advertising knows this.

That wouldn't stop a few people thinking they deserve something for nothing to sue Ford, as they did with Apple, but they'd rightly lose because Ford wouldn't state "this works 100% of the time" unless they really believed it would and the fitness for purpose test would be applied. People may not like the fitness for purpose test, but that's how the law works, at least in the US (where the Apple suit was brought)

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Re: The suit was obviously without merit @AC

You appear not to have understood the case.

If Ford said its feature worked "each and every morning" and it didn't then you would have a case.

The court looked at the specific adverts that Apple actually used and determined that there was no problem _specifically because_ Apple never promised it would work "each and every" time.

It's all in the article.

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"Apple made no promise that Siri would operate without fail"

Well, I'm not sure about other readers, but when I buy something I expect it to work without fail or fot the supplier to replace it if it does fail.

The problem is that software doesn't seem to follow those rules. Those of us in the IT world sort of expect software to have bugs, but we also expect a fix at some point. I don't see why a non-IT person should have different expectations about a product just because "software" is involved in the product.

Ok, it's fair to say that most people have some experience of the "use" of software based products which are full of bugs and failures, but why should we accept that "it's software, it has bugs, it fails" when that's simply not acceptable with other products. The industry should be improving it's products, not the customer being forced to lower their expectations below those they expect from every other product on the market.

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Re: "Apple made no promise that Siri would operate without fail"

So by that reasoning, if your mobile drops a call you expect it replaced? Likewise storm clouds impair your Satellite TV twice a year, so you want the dish replaced? That's what working without fail would mean.

The fact that something is software is a red herring.

In the UK at least a test of merchantable quality applies, not perfection. If perfection was the yardstick, we'd still be banging the rocks together. And love it or loath it, I don't think anyone could argue that the iPhone 4S was of merchantable quality. These litigants were chancers who got caught out.

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Usefulness?

We have Siri because we have Apple Phones and iPads but I don't remember the last time anyone in the family used it?

In fact when I first got the phone I thought 'ooh listen to this, it's great, watch what it can do!' of course everyone wanted to have a go. It soon revealed its limitations.....

Novelty factor has now worn off and the only time it starts is when the button is accidentally pressed and it reminds me it is still there.

I worked out how to disable it pretty quickly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Usefulness?

Ah, you're working from the assumption it's useful to YOU. Siri (and its imitations on Android) are mainly there to provide the US with perfect, personally identifiable digital voiceprints so that ECHELON as less trouble tagging conversations.

BTW, has anyone seen my tinfoil hat?

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Re: Usefulness?

That was my experience - people used it to show off, rapidly discovered that it wasn't very good, often while showing it off, and then forgot about it. I've never seen anyone use it for real.

I don't think that is because Siri is bad at what it does so much as the whole idea is a gimmick.

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False advertising.

This isn't about the fitness of purpose of the iPhone. This is about false advertising. We have all seen those Siri ads where Siri answers every question instantly with an accurate answer. If Siri really was that good then it certainly could have been seen as a killer feature which could cause people to decide to buy an iPhone rather than the competition, and pay extra for it.

We all know that Siri is nowhere near as good as it appears in those ads and I'm not surprised that people feel aggrieved.

Perhaps the real problem is with the way advertisers are regulated and punished when they make blatantly false claims. In the UK we have the pathetically useless and toothless Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who offer no effective sanctions against serial false advertisers and, therefore, are no deterrent at all.

I'm guessing regulation in the US is at least as bad, or even worse.

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Anonymous Coward

So, now we should all go sue Samsung for their Smart TVs, you know, you've seen the ads where you control them with a wave of your hand, right???

This "feature" is bollocks, works intermittently, and makes you arm ache after trying futilely to get a response. It works, sometimes. Sound familiar.

"Hand waving" activation of TV features is not the reason that any sentient being will buy a Samsung TV. Samsung make great TVs and as TVs they very definitely are "fit for purpose" (disclaimer: I own several). Some of the gimmicks with which they come equipped don't work very well.

Do we see the parallels yet?

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah screw Samsung over for every buy / exploit in Android then?

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A question

I have a question.

The argument has been raised that one feature isn't what makes people buy the phone/tv/car whatever, but if that is actually true, why are the companies spending so much money advertising the feature? You could say it's because the feature is part of the reason someone would buy something, but that also means that the feature could be the deciding factor. I'm just looking for a satisfactory answer, so please inform me :)

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Re: A question

I was just thinking the same thing. Apple spent a lot of money on advertising that one feature, clearly they thought it would differentiate their product in the market and motivate people to buy the product. I don't know if it the same in the US, but here in Oz those ads had a text notice at the bottom of the screen advising that these were edited sequences - if that warning was absent in another market it would seem to indicate that they were aware that the ads were potentially misleading under local laws.

Unrelated to this, our soon-to-be-formerly local car maker, Holden, are currently advertising their products on the basis that they have "Siri integration". I wonder how well that works then...

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rvt

For one, i have seen at least in some advertisement's that the answer is from siri, but not in the same time.

I personally feel that although with my dutch/english accent siri does understand me well enough. I can set appointments, move them, set timer and all the simple stuff. I also dont't understand the analogy of the 'when you buy a car', at least at that time siri was beta, so people could knew it wasn't perfect.

So i strongly believe this wasn't false advertising based on what has been said in the ads's and that siri was in beta.

So, chill out everybody!

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Sad

Apple political influence in the US courts in California approaches the crime mod level, it evens grown bigger than MS. I must admit that having Al Gore on it boards and having him running the political support network of "political correctness" has been able to bend the scales of Justice...... all those appointed and elected officials are "counting dollars" in those Ireland banks that can benefit them in the future. Most of these west coast US court judges owe a lot to the Clinton and Obama appointments or "advancements" and their case managements reflect it.

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Anonymous Coward

The thing is pretty sure Apple give you a 30 day money back warranty - so if you buy it and you are not happy with it you return it. But oh no - you go legal instead...

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Anonymous Coward

astonishingly frankly admission

"A reasonable consumer would understand that commercials depicting the products they are intended to promote would be unlikely to depict failed attempts.

read: a reasonable consumer would expect that ads have only SOME relation to reality

read in plain English: a reasonable consumer would expect that ads lie

oh no sir, they only represent incomplete image of reality, due to... ehm.. due to...well, you know why!

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