There must be something about human nature that requires us to compare and contrast this or that, pick sides in battles that don’t even exist, and gather into groups that can only be described as ‘us vs. them‘ but for no apparent good reason (Hatfields and McCoys come to mind).
We see that same problem in politics, yes, but it shows up in media who find it less expensive to produce criticisms than to create insightful analysis; the former gets more readers and viewers than the latter. Most of us who follow Apple and read about the company are treated to an endless array of criticism without analysis regarding Apple’s imminent failures, and here’s a perfect example.
Here’s the latest meme. Apple is doomed because of artificial intelligence. How so? Because, unlike Google, Amazon, and others, Apple thinks customers prefer privacy so it doesn’t collect as much personal information, and ipso facto and Voila! Apple cannot possibly do well in the AI field. Siri is given as one example of an Apple AI failure, while Amazon’s Echo device sporting the Alexa voice interface is cited as the most recent major success in the industry.
Maybe it’s true that Apple– unlike Google and Amazon– does not collect as much personal data from users, but so far the products that compete against Siri’s own built-in artificial intelligence don’t seem to have take the world by storm.
How many Echo devices has Amazon sold? I mean, if it’s such a great AI device, then why are not hundreds of millions of people buying the device? Amazon is so proud of Echo that it won’t even tell how many have been sold, so the guesstimators are reduced to doing what they do. Guess. And even the best guesses say Amazon has sold but a few million of the Echo with Alexa devices.
Meanwhile, how many devices with Siri installed has Apple sold? About a billion Macs, iPhones, and iPads and Watches are in use today– nearly all have Siri installed so it looks to me as if Apple is doing OK with AI. Wait. Isn’t it true that Alexa can do more than Siri? No. Alexa can do some parlor tricks that Siri cannot. Likewise, Siri does some things that Alexa and any of the growing number of Echo-like devices cannot.
Echo is a hands free, voice controlled speaker device that is connected to the internet and responds to queries and commands. It can play music and read audio books. It can report news, weather, traffic, and even provide sports scores when asked. It’s also smart home savvy and can control various lights, switches, thermostats, and other smart home devices. It also tracks what you do, what you view, what you say, what you buy.
Funny thing. True story. Siri can do those most of those things, too, and quite a few things Echo and Alexa cannot. For example, Siri can do turn-by-turn driving directions. Siri works in your car, from your pocket, on your Mac and iPad, on your wrist, and on your TV. Most households that have Apple products have more than one, so Siri can respond to multiple queries and perform specific actions– on more than one device and at the same time– without having to buy another device.
Yet, there is word on the streets that Apple is working on an Echo-like device, too. Maybe so, maybe not, but I already own and use a bunch of artificial intelligence devices scattered throughout the house. iMac, MacBook, iPad Pro, iPhone, Watch, and they do most of what Alexa does and only the iMac requires a power cord.
If Echo and Alexa plans to take on and compete with Apple in artificial intelligence and intelligent digital assistants, methinks Amazon needs to step up the game and develop and manufacture a product that a billion people will use, not just a few million.