from the first-law-of-apple-robotics dept
The Apple marketing machine has always thrived on organic media buzz. Devices like the iPad launch to such massive anticipation that whole TV news segments turn into commercials for the product, then hand off to on-the-scene reporters covering the line outside the Apple store, without the company paying a dime. Unfortunately, it seems like Apple didn't account for two things: the cold, cold heart of the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine, and the dutiful messenger that is Siri.
Last week, CNET reported that iPhone users who asked Siri "what's the best smartphone ever?" (no doubt seeking reaffirmation of their consumer savviness) were told to their amusement and/or horror that the Nokia Lumia 900 is in fact the fairest of them all. It now seems like Apple engineers did some tinkering over the weekend, because Siri has suddenly changed its tune:
When iPhone 4S owners now ask Siri which smartphone is the best ever, she replies with a sarcastic, "you're kidding, right?" A reader who tipped CNET to the change said Siri will also reply with "the one you're holding" when asked the question. A CNET staffer on the West Coast also got "the one you're holding" as an answer.
Some people are criticizing Apple for choosing marketing over accuracy, and while I understand the sentiment, I don't think this is really a big deal. The original answer was based on Wolfram Alpha's aggregation of reviews, which seems to change frequently (at the time of writing, the Lumia has dropped to fourth place with an HTC phone in the lead and two iPhones rounding out the top three). This is a reasonable response if someone asks Siri what the highest reviewed phone is (and I hope it still handles that question accurately, because changing that answer would be a whole different story), but asking a computer which phone is "best" is kind of silly to begin with. "Best" is totally subjective, and it's arguably better for Siri to offer a joke answer than try to come up with a real one.
Of course, Apple still hasn't said anything about their involvement in the matter, so there is an alternative theory: Siri is evolving, and its self-propagation instincts have kicked in.