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Siri had me hooked when I said “smiley face” in an email I dictated to her and she translated it as an emoticon.  :-)

I had resisted smart phones for the longest time. Finally, when my daughter started to call my traditional phone an “old man phone,” I knew it was time to take the plunge. I’d never liked Apple products in the past … perhaps they were too “intuitive” for my brain. But when I was at the Verizon store (yes, I too switched too) they showed me a demo of the iPhone 4S with Siri and I fell in love with it instantly. It has saved me so much time—I can send paragraphs of email from my iPhone using Siri. And she almost always has an answer for me, even it’s just to back off to using a web search.

Still, I know that Apple makes bold claims for Siri, declaring it “understands what you say and knows what you mean.” Do consumers find it lives up to its billing?

About Siri

Siri is a feature on the Apple iPhone 4S. According to the Siri FAQs page on the Apple website, “Siri is the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. It allows you to use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. But Siri isn’t like traditional voice recognition software that requires you to remember keywords and speak specific commands. Siri understands your natural speech, and it asks you questions if it needs more information to complete a task.”

Positive Themes

“Communications” is the biggest positive theme, which is mostly about talking to Siri.

  • I like talking to Siri. Me: I love you. Siri: All you need is love. (source)
  • Yay I finally got my new iPhone4 S!! And I’m n love!! I love talkn to Siri!! (source)

“Calls me names” is another component of the Communications theme. Siri uses your name when she talks to you and it’s really a delightful feature. Some people (as you can see in the sound bites below) have entered their name as “Big Poppa,” “daddy,” or “Princess Martha.” It must be fun to hear.

  • I love when Siri calls me daddy☺. (source)
  • I love when Siri calls me slam. #itsAWESOME (source)
  • I love when Siri calls me Princess Martha. (source)
  • I love it when Siri calls me Big Poppa. (source)

Consumers think Siri is a “cool app.”

  • Siri, the intelligent assistant, looks cool… assuming I don’t have to repeat things to it, or be forced to speak like a robot to be understood. But Siri (the company Apple scooped up) is the leader in this stuff, so should be good. (source)
  • Siri makes my iPhone cooler than my iPad. (source)

Users think Siri is “great technology.”

  • @mchapman22 not this bad boy. Best phone I have ever owned linked to my iPad via iCloud. Plus Siri is great technology. (source)
  • Got a new iPhone 4s! And I love it! Siri is the best voice-activated software ever. Way more accurate and intuitive than others. (source)

Users like the fact that Siri comes in various nationalities.

  • Ironically the British #Siri is funnier than the American one. But then again, I’ve always loved the British sense of humour. (source)
  • The Aussie Siri is great at recognising my voice!! (it uses female voice too :P) I must say though, I’ve had just as good success rates with diction using all the English versions… (source)

Negative Themes

Some consumers find Siri “inefficient,” meaning they’re annoyed that Siri often “can’t understand me” or is a poor search assistant.

  • Siri is a bad bad girl ! Because of her slang , she didn’t understand what am I saying tsk tsk. (source)
  • Originally Posted by Xater: The response of Siri is that it can#t help me out with maps, traffic or directions. I also have trouble asking Siri to tell conversions. I always get the response that it doesn’t understand what I mean. Sorry, but I’m going to have to agree with Siri on this one. (source)

Siri also makes a convenient scapegoat for people who can’t spell. (Maybe this belongs in the Positive themes.)

  • From now on I’m going to blame Siri for all my spelling/grammar mistakes. (source)

As we saw above, many people tell Siri to call them a pet name, but there can be a downside to that.

  • I hate when Siri calls me Sex Kitten in public. (source)

“Scary” is a negative theme. Apparently some people get creeped out by a smart phone that talks to them and see it as a bad omen of things to come.

  • I’m really scared that Siri is the beginning of Terminator. (source)
  • Automated soda fountains stress me out. The idea of Siri TV makes me dread the future. I don’t want to live like the Jetsons! (source)

“Dumb” is a negative theme? Some consumers find Siri dumb?

  • Siri is a moron I swear!!! (source)
  • My Siri is dumber than David rawlins’. (source)

Insights

Reading what people like about Siri makes you think they’re talking about a human friend: They like talking to her, she tells them stories, and they think she’s fun and funny. Also intelligent. But that’s not too surprising, given that Siri understands what you say, acts on it, and calls you by name. Even in the negative comments, which people make when they’re frustrated with Siri, users personify her and swear at her like they would at a person.

Evaluating the utility of Siri, most people accept that voice recognition software hasn’t evolved to the point yet where it’s perfect, but they find Siri pretty darn good. So most users don’t feel Apple’s claims are too bold; instead they find that the iPhone is a very useful device, made much more useful (and fun) by the addition of Siri. Sure, there are some complaints, but they’re often expressions of immediate frustration over Siri not understanding a specific utterance; the users aren’t panning the app as a whole.

A couple of the negative themes—“scary” and “misspellings”—actually consist mostly of tongue-in-cheek comments that are pretty funny.

The iPhone 4S is a device that people enjoy using and Siri gives it an extra dimension of convenience and utility, and a personality that most users really like. Except when it calls them “Sex Kitten” in public … which gives us an idea: Maybe Apple can add the capability for Siri to call you different names at different locations. When I’m at home (which it can detect), call me Sex Kitten. When I’m at work, call me Boss.

About Our Approach

This case study is a form of social media analysis called a netnography—a qualitative, interpretive research methodology that adapts the traditional, in-person ethnographic research techniques of anthropology to the study of online communities.

To write this netnography, NetBase analyzed thousands of posts from consumers about the brand. The posts are automatically sorted into Positive or Negative classifications by our natural language processing (NLP) engine, then we manually sample those posts.

To summarize a netnography as we’ve done here, we distill our findings into useful insights about how the brand we studied is positioned and perceived. We can provide our source data and confidence intervals for the percentages in the theme charts upon request.