Chris Dixon wrote a great post in Jan '10 called 'The next big thing will start off looking like a toy' (http://cdixon.org/2010/01/03/the…). Siri is a great example of this.
The leading indicator that Siri will be amazingly successful is that people are having fun with it – and it's not breaking.
Let's take the simple use case of 'Hey Siri, tell me a joke.' Consistently answering this with a humorous response requires
- Speech recognition (or at least noise-free recording)
- Cloud-based interpretation and response
- Believable text-to-speech
(The last one is very important, by the way. Apple has spent decades getting text-to-speech right, complete with stresses, tones and nuances (har har). This is paying rich dividends now)
Each time someone demoes the 5 funny Siri use-cases to their friends, the system becomes smarter, but more importantly, the technology gets humanized. More people will use it because it's like a toy.
In fact, I don't have an iPhone 4S right now. Guess what – I've started using the clunky Voice Control on my iPhone 3GS these days, because I somehow trust it'll work now. And it does!
Also in Jan '10, Fred Wilson wrote a dictated blog post using an Android phone (http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/01/…). I'm sure he, and other long-time android users all over, are looking at iPhone users quizzically, and wondering what the fuss is. After all, isn't this merely Voice Control plus some Text-to-Speech thrown in?
The difference is – Android's voice capabilities were a feature, Siri is a toy. And that makes all the difference.