back to article New Yorker sues Apple: 'Misleading and deceptive' Siri ads

A New York man has filed a class-action suit alleging that Apple's adverts and claims about its Siri voice-activated info system are bunk, guff, bosh, and bull – and no, that's not the name of the law firm he has hired. That firm is Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, which wrote in its complaint lodged in the federal court in San …


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  1. Jeremy 2

    Americans often complain about the unfair stereotype of being an excessively litigious nation, suing each other because they don't like the weather...

    ...but guys, you have people like this. How can you be surprised we stereotype?!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How dare a product to be expected, nay required, to back up its manufacturer's marketing claims!

    2. Craigness

      People should have NO RIGHT to be given what they've been promised. It's this sense of ENTITLEMENT which is breaking our society.

      1. Phaedrus

        It depends...

        Has the customer tried to get a refund and cancel the contract? If a product is faulty, or has been sold under false pretenses then the users should be able to return them for a full refund (or exchange if it's just that particular product at fault).

        If that basic right has been denied, then I fully support legal action... otherwise it's just a bid to grab fame/money.

        1. Ammaross Danan

          Re: It depends...

          It isn't that he can't get a refund (although, he is likely far outside the normal return window by now), it is most likely a bid for fame. HOWEVER, if he doesn't fight it (due to having an excess of time on hand is likely), but instead quietly returns the device as bunk vs adverts, how can such an errant advertising campaign be stopped? I can't say how many people I've spoken to that whisper to me in back corners about this "new thing" that is Siri and extolling the advertising-based knowledge of the wonders of this feature. They refuse to believe anything I say about Siri not living up to the hype. It's sad really. Good for this guy to actually call Apple out on their adverts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      pick up a book

      Or read a map?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What i would like to know is why the register thought this was more news worthy than BT suing Google.

  2. zanto

    Dear Frank

    You're holding it wrong.

    - sent from my milestone

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Siri's IQ

    Six thousand's not that much. It's only the same IQ as twelve thousand car park attendants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Siri's IQ

      Or the same as six thousand PE teachers

    2. Benjamin 4

      Re: Siri's IQ

      All downvoters please watch Red Dwarf, then upvote. No-one should downvote classic Red Dwarf Quotes.

  4. Arctic fox

    Most unfortunate if true.

    "Cult of Mac theorizes that Siri's senility is due to Apple throttling the compute power it devotes to question-and-answer processing because of the high demand that the iPhone 4S's success is putting on its servers."

    If (and I stress "if") it is the case that Apple have taken to restricting the available processing for Siri then the issue of "beta version" becomes a rather different issue. It is one thing to warn your customers (albeit buried in the small print) that the version is in beta and quite another to partially cripple yourself. It should perform as well as the given beta is capable of performing - not be artificially restricted because demand for a service that you yourself hyped with the launch of your product has proven to be more than you feel like devoting the resources to. I hope for the sake of Apple's enthusiastic customers that "Cult of Mac's" hypothesis is incorrect otherwise somebody is taking the piss out of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most unfortunate if true.

      Siri's potential demand is effectively unlimited because a lot of 4S users clearly are using it for everything and then doing some more tricks with it to awe their friends. They couldn't reasonably install the capacity for that.

      1. Tom 13


        Stay on target.

        Neither the plaintiff nor the referenced article are about using it for everything and then some. It's about it not doing what is advertised or in the case of the article, less than it did in the past.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The lawsuit is probably a minor thing

          Small beer for Apple when you think of their cash reserves: I don't think there's much chance of this snowballing even if he won. Apple being unable to offer the service they used to is potentially much more serious.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most unfortunate if true.

      "otherwise somebody is taking the piss out of them"

      Yeah, Every non iPhone user!

      1. Frank Bough

        Re: Most unfortunate if true.

        You mean both of them?

  5. tkioz

    Beta or not, it's advertised as a finished product in the marketing materiel, fine print shouldn't matter, the capabilities the product is displaying should, especially when they are non-farcical (such as a flying car) but rather something people can realistically expect in the product.

    Frankly marketers get away with far too much these days and need to be cut down to size.

    1. Adam T


      Marketing is where the problem lies. Look at our own toothless ASA .. just when you think they actually do stuff, they rule that Siri works in the UK because "it can tell you the weather". Welcome to the future.

      I should complain to the ASA about SyFy channel advertising "the greatest movies of all time" (none of which you'll have heard of).

      Simple policy of course is to not believe anything you see, hear, or read in a commercial.

      1. CmdrX3

        Re: Marketing

        "I should complain to the ASA about SyFy channel advertising "the greatest movies of all time" (none of which you'll have heard of)."

        Are you trying to tell me that no one has ever heard of "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown". Nahhh. I refuse to believe it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Marketing

          Unfortunately, my old college room mate and I both agreed to turn it off because it was so bad. This coming from someone who enjoyed "Hell comes to frog town", "Waxwork" (awesome) and "Cherry 2000". No T&A because it was on Rhonda Shear's 'Up all night' show in the U.S. We did enjoy "Hard to Die"... one of a group of women working inventory at a lingerie store (directly above the gun shop) is possessed (about a quarter of the movie is old footage from Slumber party massacre, if I remember correctly). Some of the pictures on the video sleeve aren't even from the movie.

      2. The Infamous Grouse


        Remember, this is the same ASA that has ruled it perfectly acceptable to use the word "unlimited" to promote a service with limits, as long as those limits do not affect a significant majority of users. That they don't actually specify what constitutes a significant majority is just the lunatic icing on the insanity cake. When a simple English word that's had the same unambiguous meaning for over 560 years can be rendered meaningless by the power of marketing, we are screwed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judging by Steve Wozniak's examples...

    The problem is that they have compromised the service to put the other A.I. first, Advertising Income!

    1. Oninoshiko
      Thumb Up

      Re: Judging by Steve Wozniak's examples...


      I think that's EXACTLY whats happening. Less throttling, more advertiseing.

      Never attribute to incompetence what can be adequately explained with greed.

  7. scarshapedstar

    I gotta say, anyone who actually believed these ads is an idiot.

    They might as well have the guy say "remind me when to take my insulin" and Siri fires off an email to his physician and then parses the response into a daily calendar.

    Meanwhile, I can tell my Android phone "navigate to X" and it knows exactly what I mean. Or I can tell it "evolutionary common ancestor of dogs and cats", not only because this isn't Jeopardy and I don't have to phrase everything in the form of a question, but because I know how Google works and I know that this is a pretty good search if I want to, you know, actually find relevant information.

    The problem with what Apple's trying to do is that behaves very differently based on the KIND of search it thinks you're doing. For example, if I search on Google for Ruby Tuesday, I might be looking for a restaurant chain's locations, stock quotes, corporate website, or wikipedia article. Or maybe I'm looking for a recording of a Rolling Stones song, or a lyrics, or it's own damn wikipedia article - all of these things pop on page one and it's pretty sure one of them is what I want.

    With Siri, it basically guesses what I mean, and 90% of the time it will assume I'm looking for a local business listing. Theoretically context words like "tell me how to go to Ruby Tuesday" can help but you never know what's gonna happen, but since Apple is too proud to do a Google search the usual alternative is goddamn WolframAlpha, like I asked it to differentiate secant squared or something.

    1. Chika

      Go Stick Your Head In A Pig...

      "anyone who actually believed these ads is an idiot"

      Yeppers. Consider that carefully. This is the reason for the existence of spammers, 419 scammers, phishing sites, pyramid schemes and the like. Because there are idiots that believe everything they are told, so these things continue to happen.

      This is, after all, hardly the first time that Apple has been called to task because of advertising hype that was "inaccurate". For example, there was that case about the speed of response of iOS where people actually thought that the ad depicted the speed accurately then found that this was all nonsense once they bought the device and had to suffer the delays in real life. Or the bold claim that Apple were the first to put a RISC in a desktop machine (a claim they hastily retracted when Xemplar partner at that time, Acorn, reminded them about something they invented called ARM which sat in their Archimedes range that predated the PowerPC Apples by at least a year).

      This doesn't necessarily mean that Apple themselves are at fault, but it does go to show that marketing types aren't all that trustworthy. Something that the late Douglas Adams pointed out at length.

  8. Bush_rat

    Siri's to thin

    Like all women(and men) givin that attention, Siri is self conscious and is on a diet.

    Am I the only one that saw this coming? What happened here is there are too many 'beta' testers using Siri and its throttling her limited server based power. The exact same thing happened 2 weeks ago with the Raspberry Pi and, let's be honest, I don't know how well the reg would cope with Siri's level of demand.

    But instead of giving back wrong answers, slow down the process allowing for the same level of error checking for everyone, and if too many people use it at once and the request line is too long, just send back a "server busy :("

  9. P Saunders

    Parallels to be drawn

    "...Siri either did not understand what Plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer."

    Sounds like just another day in the average American classroom...or Congress.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. scarshapedstar

      Re: Parallels to be drawn

      "...Siri either did not understand what Plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer."

      Waaaaait a minute... they never mentioned this before, but her full name is Siri Palin.

      1. David 30

        Re: Parallels to be drawn

        "...Siri either did not understand what Plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer."

        Is Siri actually just Apple's 'customer service' department?

  10. jake Silver badge

    The Woz comments "Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate."

    Hmm. So Apple is storing everything asked of Siri at Apple, and basing answers on the cumulative questions asked by the GreatUnwashed[tm]?

    Google syndrome, and a major privacy issue. Another reason to avoid iFads.

    1. Rodrigo Rollan

      The first thing i thought of exactly

      What if it is pondering the most asked questions and using them as a sort of response cache? How long before it inevitably leads you to porn sites ? You know, the one and only true answer to anything in the internet is porn....or 47.

      I am getting my coat while I type this.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: The first thing i thought of exactly

        47? Is that how much 42 is worth these days?

        1. Gavin King

          Re: The first thing i thought of exactly

          Inflation's a bit of a nuisance at times, isn't it?

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Chris 3

    Some of Wozniak's examples sound...

    ... a bit Wolfram Alpha-heavy. Has anyone ever written a good article on how the relationship between Apple and W-A works? Does Wolfram get paid per query? Perhaps there's a problem there?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Didn't we already know this?

    Google voice actions is just as good, if not better and won't disappoint, as it's not been hyped to the moon and back.

  14. Graeme 7

    Too much information

    Could it be that they've let it at more information to decide on what you want and now it just too easily gets confused? Obviously the other explanation that they've not been adding enough servers to the backend while more and more iPhones are sold is also a pretty reasonable assumption. Either way it sounds like something that Apple should be rectifying.

  15. stizzleswick

    How can anybody expect...

    ...something as complex as what Siri is supposedly offering to actually work? No, just let me finish, please.

    I have worked with things that were amazing at the time, such as the voice command feature of OS/2 v. 4, fifteen years ago... and it worked. If you didn't expect too much of it, and had a reasonably fast computer, and a reasonably good microphone, and so on and so on and so on.

    To expect such a miracle-cure service such as Siri was announced at to work out of the box is ludicrous. Yes, the end customer wants it to work. Yes, Google wants it to work (and Apple _are_ using Google searches for the results; hence the current bias on business results... especially, if you look closely, businesses that do their advertising through Google...), and so does the end user. But the end user typically expects more practical results for their real-life problems than Google can sell them -- or any other commercial search engine. The search engines make money by brokering business, whether the user likes it or not.

    Of course, Apple can only tie in to the search engines (whichever they are using!) by allowing those to do advertising... so I can totally understand why Siri service quality went down the drain since its introduction.

    Sueing Apple over this, I think, is the wrong approach. They are allowing this process to happen, yes. But the drivers of it are the likes of Yahoo, Google, and so on, who are not interested in your finding the next filling station, but the next [fill-in-brand-here] filling station... because that generates revenue.

    Might as well sue Oracle for providing the database software the search engines are running on -- pointless. If you expect anything to work as advertised... buy products that are not advertised. Anybody disappointed in what the advertised product actually offers should sue the advertising companies (or departments), not the manufacturer. Siri's a reasonable jumble of garbage, and that's what you get. The iPhone 4s is the same price (where I am) as the previous model a year ago, so there is no price hike. So, whoever complains, get off your high horse. The phone works, the service is deteriorating. Is that any news? News at all?

    *shrug* OK, I know... I'll probably get a few thousand thumbs down and a bunch of flames...

    1. Craigness

      Re: How can anybody expect...

      If it didn't work then Apple should have advertised it not working, so that people knew it didn't work. But they didn't want people to know it didn't work, they just wanted the money.

      It's not Oracle's problem that Apple advertised something which they don't supply.

    2. Craigness

      Re: Didn't we already know this?

      To be fair to poor little Siri, round 3 was more like a draw because they both made mistakes.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: How can anybody expect...

      Let me get this straight....

      Siri is introduced last year and the fanbois praise Apple for producing the bestest voice-based AI thing EVAH!!! But after a few months it turns out that Siri is actually a bit shit, and now it is somehow Yahoo and Google's fault?


    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How can anybody expect...

      That would be acceptable, if Apple had slipped Siri into iOS as a beta, made no fanfare about what it can do and just announced that it was available, wasn't perfect, but, well just try it and see what you think.

      However, Apple launched the 4S with a blaze of advertising, all cented on how fantastic it was, with Siri being the showpiece app, driving everything you could possibly want to do on your phone.

      If you want to place Siri as the masterpiece of your new phone and tell the whole world how brilliant it is, don't be shocked if people don't accept "it's just a beta".

    5. Irongut
      Thumb Down

      Re: How can anybody expect...

      FAIL was the right icon to pick stizzleswick, it sums up your post perfectly.

      If you bought a car and it only came with three tires would you sue Michelin? If you bought a sandwich and there was only one slice of bread would you sue Hovis?

      The manufacturer is responsible for providing the features they advertised. If Siri doesn't work as advertised then Apple are liable. If it did work but is deteriorating then that is news because existing users need to know why they can't get the right results and potenial buyers need to know not to buy an iPhone 4S if Siri was the feature they wanted.

      And, search engines don't run on Oracle databases. Go look up Big Table and Hadoop.

    6. Colin Millar

      Re: How can anybody expect...

      I'd have some sympathy if we were talking about some fly-by-night one-horse wonder - you take a chance on the quality of what you might end up with.

      But Apple have deliberately cultivated their image of "it just works". They sell themselves at the top of the market as being a quality company providing quality products that add cool to their users. That strategy is undermined when "it just fails".

      Of course another part of the strategy works really well - that of getting their users so invested in the image of being cool, hip and right that every time we see a problem like this the fanbase feels the need to come out and defend their ludicrous decisions to buy expensive shiny things that may keep them on the cutting edge of cool but keeps them well behind the curve in actual technological advances. Apple's biggest success comes not from being technically competent but from a thorough understanding that Edward Bernays was spot on.

    7. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: How can anybody expect...

      stizzleswick - FAIL at everything.

      Google's search is lame, and lamer than it was last year? Maybe, but not relevant.

      Siri is beta? Maybe, but not relevant.

      Oracle have a wonky database? Maybe, but not relevant.

      The moon is Waning Gibbous tonight (wasn't that a BeeGee?). Not relevant either.

      What IS relevant is that Siri was promoted as must-have functionality and shown to be capable of doing all the sorts of cool things that clueless guys usually depend upon their partner to do. But, wait, Siri doesn't live up to the hype. And it's not even anywhere near. To return info on prime ribs when asked about prime numbers is really poor.

      THAT is the crux of the matter. The reasons suggested are mere excuses to cover over what is, in common language, known as a lie.

  16. andreas koch

    Siri bombing...

    Anyone remember google bombing? I should think that the same thing happened with Siri as well; as Apple has no control over the supplying databases it's probably even easier. This, together with the popularity of the gimmick and the resulting back end overload makes it quite understandable that it doesn't work all that well. Even though I'm definitely not an Apple fan, I don't think any deliberate fault lies with them, they just advertised more than they could deliver (not uncommon really: the first 4wheel drive Audi 100 couldn't drive up a ski jumping ramp). The fault lies with the fanbois who want to believe every word of their favourite maker's adverts, much like slimming aids, stain removers, snake oil, religious promises and so forth...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV Adverts in UK

    How come the Vodafone adverts on UK telly that show of the virtues of Siri are still being aired?


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