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?!
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 …
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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 :("
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.
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.
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.
...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...
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.
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?
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".
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.
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.
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.
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...
In the ads it looks to me as though Siri has an extremely limited successful vocabulary. It recognises "Mom", "weather", "brother" - and possibly gets the last two confused sometimes. So maybe it was "rain" the key word, I don't remember. So you say "Did Mom send me that recipe?" and Siri maybe hears "bzzz mom bzzz bzzz bzzz bzzzzzzz" and finds the most recent logged event that involves your mother, which happens to be the recipe being sent. We'll be able to test this around "Mother's Day".
The UK ads make a huge thing about Siri - in fact its just about the only selling point that Apple seem to be using in the UK. I notice that they all say "sequence shortened" but nowhere on those adverts do they say that the software is in beta and not reliable.
If BMW advertised a car and made a big thing about its 4WD capabilities but in actual fact the 4WD system was still not complete, and didn't work properly half the time, then people would be suing the pants off them...
So how the hell are Apple allowed to continue running ads which are pretty much lies?
> that a company like Apple can't afford to buy itself another server farm, or ten.
Apple has more cash than many countries, and server farms have never been cheaper. It's not that they couldn't. I think the point is, they don't have to. They've already sold the phones. It just had to work for the demo.
..mostly because only a non-technical person would think that current AI tech is anywhere close to inferring what I want from casual conversation. We know that unless you assign a IBM Watson for every 100 iPhone users, the best your going to get is pre-programmed responses to pre-programmed questions, on a good day. If the guy really thought he was getting a personal assistant in the form of a phone, I got a bridge he might want to buy too.
The ad is misleading, therefore, he should be able to return his phone. Not sue for damages like a child.
It sounds like he was talked into the upgrade. If that was the case, I'd want to sue too. And this case has all the necessary ingredients for a high grade Class Action Lawsuit (Big company ignoring customers, little guy getting screwed; cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching for the lawyers) so it's no surprise he found someone to take his case.
The problem is, they weren't lying at the time the ads were made. There's evidence to suggest that Apple's data centres are simply unable to cope with the demand and they're having to throttle it, which does have an effect on the quality of the results returned.
What are Apple supposed to do? Magic a couple of massive server farms out of thin air overnight? Those things take a hell of a long time to plan, design, build and fit-out, and Apple are, in fact, already doing precisely that. There's no instant fix, however.
Regarding Siri's beta status: it's plastered over Siri's webpage on Apple's own website in a very visible orange label. If that's what some of you consider "small print", I suggest you go visit an optician. Apple aren't hiding this.
No, they're not going out of their way to make it clear it's a beta in their TV ads, but then, Google never bothered with that nicety either, and some of their features were in a beta phase for years. And they've tripped up a few times as well: remember the brouhaha over Google Buzz?
Not everyone has a clear speaking voice, so Siri was never of interest to me, and I've had no better luck with Android's equivalent, or even with my occasional tests of Nuance's Dragon Dictate engine (which is, I think, the same engine powering Siri). Anyone who expects a machine to be better than a human at understanding spoken language needs their head examined. My own family have trouble understanding me at times, so how the hell is a phone supposed to be any better?
As for the naïve notion you have that there's no lying in adverts, two words: "unlimited broadband". Now that is a flat-out lie.
(There is, however, one thing the iPhone 4S does offer that the previous model didn't, and which isn't subject to a "Beta" label: Apple are finally offering a 64GB iPhone model. That is of far more value to me than any form of speech recognition.)
That page on Apple's website says, "It understands what you say," "It knows what you mean," and, "It helps you do the things you do every day." in black-on-white header, and "May not work yada yada," in grey-on-grey orphaned body at the bottom. Plastered my arse.
Anyway, I usually try to live by Hanlon's Razor, but I suspect that what happened in this case was that at launch apple had deweighted business search results in order to prevent people from realising that, "Hey, all this thing does is try to sell me stuff," before a trenchant fanbase was established. That done, open up the suitcase and start hawking.
...and is providing answers at the same intelligence level as the questioners...especially for those in the States.
Which leads me to the following conclusion: what is Siri doing with all the other spare cycles? SkyNet here we come...but who could blame him/her.
I wasn't the only one who thought Mr Fazio's accent may be part of the problem then. If he's a typical Italian American with a Brooklyn accent then he'll be pretty much unintelligible to most people. (Just for the record, I love the Brooklyn accent, but it is a bit unusual).
That only hurts Apple's ads. They advertise it as working for EVERYBODY.
Yeah, I know most voice stuff is a load of crock until trained. One of my early experiences with it was trying to install it for an Israeli who had an accent so thick you needed a chain saw to cut it. Poor sod bought himself a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking (way back around maybe 4.0) for WordPerfect so he wouldn't have to dictate everything to his secretary. I did my best to tweak the software for him. Of course there was no way I could tell him the problem was his accent, that would have gotten me and my company sued.
My mum was round my house the other week and I was telling her that you could now voice control the iPhone. To demo this, my wife got her iPhone 4S out and tried to use Siri three times, each time it failed after a long pause, saying something like "can't answer that question right now".
I got my Nokia Lumia (WP7) out my pocket, and fired off a text message using voice control - it worked perfectly.
WP7 Voice control is a lot more limited than Siri of course, but I still had a good laugh at my wife's expense.
Apple really blew it by introducing this feature. Google has their version of it in development and this is just the kind of thing that Google is *really* good at. A few months from now, when you ask your Android a question it's going to harness the power of all of those hundreds of thousands of servers in the Google data centers, which were programmed by the hordes of brainiacs that Google has spent the last decade hiring.
Google already has it in.
It's called Voice Actions, and it's been in Android since 2.2 (about a year before Siri), it's also MCUh better already at recognising really stuff. Sure you need to use a specific verb at the start, but AT LEAST IT WORKS.. It's also considerably faster at getting results (see the Gizmodo link)
Just because Google aren't shouting from the rafters like Apple about how voice control is the future, doesn't mean to say Android can't already do the same.
To be honest i'm a little annoyed at Siri too, i'm in the UK and it was advertised as being able to locate businesses, but failed to mention that this could only be done in the USA and they had no intention of ever getting it to work anywhere else.
Why would Americans need to know where a business is, they don't even own passports as they never leave their streets.
It's amusing to me to FINALLY see the same kinds of rules that apply to physical products being applied, or at least trying to, to software.
It used to be the licence saying "might not work, regardless of how much you payed for it" was enough to get any software compagny out of hot water when the software failed miserably. Now, they are being called to task for saying "It does X" when it clearly can't.
I mean, if your new car, with park assist, rammed into another vehicule, wouldn't YOU want to sue the maker?
Let it be a leason. Don't sale snake oil and expect people to say it;s wonderful while they have the runs.
Siri has been able to remind me of things based on date and or time. Siri was able to tell me the five largest lakes in California, but I got nowhere on the prime numbers greater than 87 or similar tests to some of the commercials. Anything even coming close to that ridiculous teenaged guitarist wannabee commercial just isn't happening at all, so that's clearly not going to happen.
It's ok with some things. For example I just asked it the following questions and it got them all right:
When did Franklin Roosevelt die?
How many protons are there in a Helium atom?
What is a gluon?
Now, obviously as I live in the UK, I can't use it to ask where the nearest restaurant is or anything like that.
Regardless, it's a new technology and kind-of works, sometimes, but I agree the adverts make it look better than it is at present.
Apple played that very well. It's possible that they will never be able to justify the cost of the back-end necessary to provide Siri service as promised, but they don't have to. They've already sold a massive number of 4s phones.
And next time they promise something they can't deliver, users will again line up to buy it. It's absolutely brilliant. Mindshare really is more important than product.
It is because Siri, which is managed by Nuance, who brought SpinVox, needs human operators to actually work. And its that they cant get it to scale commercially because the rev share model negotiated between Nuance and Apple isn't working so the carbon intervention is going down
What a load of codswallop this whole "ohh sorry we cant scale the servers" bs this is, why is everyone believing it?
Siri is beta, period. Nobody in their right mind should expect a beta product to work properly. I've tried it several times since getting my phone, usually just for a laugh, and generally wind up turning it off because it messes up voice dialling and music player features, particularly when I have poor network reception.
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