Is Google’s engaging in hypocrisy on Siri?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Used under Flickr CCli. Photo by Flickr user Jolie O. Dell

Back at AllThingsD’s AsiaD conference, Google’s head of Android, Andy Rubin, was asked about Siri-Apple’s new digital assistant technology. Here is what he had to say:

I don’t believe your phone should be an assistant. Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone. You should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone. We’ll see how pervasive it gets.

Many at the time pointed out that this was nonsense. Your smart phone is very much your assistant, and that Rubin would say just about anything to be dismissive of Apple at such a large and public tech conference. However, when Google’s Eric Schmidt found himself front of U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee in Sept of 2011, he changed Google’s tune on Siri. Here are some choice quotes from his statement in front of the Senate subcommittee:

History shows that popular technology is often supplanted by entirely new models. Even in the few weeks since the hearing, Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S.


Apple’s Siri is a significant development — a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search.

Wow! Suddenly Siri is “innovation”,”a significant development”, and “a new approach to search technology.”

According to 9to5Mac– Danny Sullivan, editor of, thinks Schmidt would say whatever was needed in order to avoid being labeled a search monopoly by the US Senate subcommittee. I fully agree with Sullivan. Google changed its tune only to avoid getting int trouble. Schmidt was trying to show the Senate committee that they were not a monopoly in the area of search and there were many other competitors.

However, the story gets better. Google just purchased a “voice-recognition” assistant for Android, under the codename Majel. I guess Google is suddenly terrified of Siri–or perhaps it always was.

And, here’s an article from 2 days ago from

Google announced on Tuesday that it acquired a company called Clever Sense, the maker of the app Alfred, which serves as a digital personal assistant.

Ironically– as it seems Google’s lot to play second-fiddle in innovation to Apple, the article was entitled: Google Buys a Virtual Assistant, But It’s a Far Cry From Siri.


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