They say politics makes strange bedfellows. Maybe so, but competition among technology companies can be just as strange as partnerships. Who’s the king of internet search? Google. What company is responsible for hindering Google’s plans to dominate mobile devices? Apple, thanks to the App Store and the fact that iPhone and iPad users prefer apps to Google searches.
Wait. It gets stranger. Microsoft has this cool digital voice assistant called Cortana that runs on Windows 10, which the company is pushing hard to penetrate the convoluted and fragmented Windows market. What does Cortana do? Well, it has helped Microsoft’s Bing search engine to gain market share against rival Google. Unfortunately, it takes Microsoft’s users a long, long time to upgrade to the latest versions, but the handwriting is on the wall. Cortana is getting used more by Windows users, and that means more searches for Bing, and fewer searches for Google.
Where does Apple fit into this scenario?
Microsoft and Apple are less teammates than they are competitors but against Google everything is fair game. Guess who is coming to the Mac? Siri. Like Cortana, Siri steps in to form a layer between a user and a Google search. Wait? Are not Siri’s searches supposed to be search engine agnostic?
Apparently Siri prefers Bing searches to Google searches by about two-to-one, according to those who conduct such research. Like it or don’t, Google, you’re being squeezed where it hurts. Fewer searches means less revenue for Google. More searches to Bing by Cortana means more money for Microsoft. Apple gets paid for searches either way but it’s interesting that Siri chooses Microsoft Bing more than Google.
The past couple of weeks, since Apple released macOS Sierra as a public preview, I’ve been using Siri on an older Mac. Unless you work on a Mac in a large cubicle farm or in a school classroom, you’re going to like Siri on the Mac.
For now, Siri is resident in both the Mac’s Dock and the cluttered Menubar, but functions much like Siri on iPhone or iPad. Siri can find files using Spotlight, and since that once useless tool has improved in recent iterations of OS X, Siri can search the web, open specific apps, take dictation, and more. Siri is smart enough now to take multiple queries in the same query, such as “find Word documents created in the last week.”
What’s missing here is the always-on ‘Hey Siri…‘ option found in the iPhone 6s models. Why that’s not on macOS Sierra is beyond me. The Mac has a built-in microphone and plenty of power.
Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri on the Mac combine to put the hurt on Google’s traditional search engine business. Fewer searches means less revenue for Google. One could argue that Amazon’s Echo has a similar presence and could help both Cortana and Siri reduce Google’s search engine presence, but only Amazon knows how many of its Echo devices have been sold; a number probably in the hundreds of thousands, but nothing to compare with the hundreds of millions of Macs and Windows PCs that run Siri and Cortana respectively.
What about Google Now, the search engine giant’s alternative to Siri and Cortana? Sure, it works, but it’s obviously Google-centric technology. Plus, ‘Google Now’ is a stupid name for an interactive entity.