Former Apple employee claims Steve Jobs would have 'lost his mind' over Siri

in iPhone edited January 2014
A new report quotes a former Apple employee as saying that people at the company are "embarrassed by Siri" and late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs would have "lost his mind" over the feature's performance.

The most-recent issue of Fortune profiles Apple CEO Tim Cook as a capable leader who is leaving his own mark on the company. However, author Adam Lashinsky notes that Siri may also reflect a change in the quality of Apple's products.

"People are embarrassed by Siri," Lashinsky quoted a "former insider" as saying. "Steve [Jobs] would have lost his mind over Siri."

The Siri voice assistant feature launched as a beta with the iPhone 4S last October. However, some consumers have been unsatisfied by the service's performance, especially as compared to television advertisements touting it, and have filed class-action lawsuits against the company.

Some users have even set out to test the service by replicating requests put to Siri by celebrities in recent commercials. For instance, developer Paul Kafasis followed actor Samuel L. Jackson's lead in asking Siri for a reminder to "put the gazpacho on ice in an hour," but he was unable to have the sentence understood, as noted by Daring Fireball. Kafasis even went so far as to use the audio from Jackson's commercial to submit a request to Siri. The service responded by attempting to call names that were combinations of his phone's contacts.

Though it's not clear whether the move was intentional, new commercials from Apple should be easier to reproduce. Two new spots featuring actor John Malkovich show him submitting simple one-word requests to Siri.

Credit: Shawn King

Anecdotal evidence has also suggested that Siri does not perform as well as expected in Japanese. Support for the language arrived in March with the release of iOS 5.1.

Siri may also be facing obstacles in the enterprise. Earlier this week, IBM revealed that it had banned Siri from use on its corporate network because of security concerns. The company, which admitted it is "extraordinarily conservative" when it comes to security, specifically took issue with the fact that Siri contacts Apple's servers for each request.

Apple acquired Siri in 2010, reportedly paying $200 million for the company. One of the co-founders of Siri claimed earlier this year that Jobs was initially unhappy with the name of the service, but he reportedly stuck with the name because he was unable to come up with anything better.

Fortune previously reported an incident where Jobs lost his temper when an Apple product failed to live up to expectations. After the MobileMe service had a shaky launch in 2008 and received poor reviews as a result, Jobs called the product's team together for a meeting.

The executive was said to have asked the team what the product's purpose was. After receiving a response, Jobs reportedly asked, "So why the f--- doesn't it do that?"

"You've tarnished Apple's reputation..." Jobs allegedly said. "You should hate each other for having let each other down... [technology journalist Walt Mossberg], our friend, is no longer writing good things about us."

Acccording to the report, Jobs appointed a new leader of the MobileMe team after the meeting. Most of the team that worked on the service was reportedly disbanded as well.

When announcing the replacement iCloud service last year, Jobs admitted that MobileMe was not Apple's "finest hour" and promised that the service would just work.


  • Reply 1 of 189
    tikimantikiman Posts: 68member

    I guess there's little point in mentioning that 95% of the time Siri works just fine for me, but I don't ask it to find "funky" names of locations, songs, etc. that I know it would be hard to understand. I must be in the minority. 

  • Reply 2 of 189
    mjbauermjbauer Posts: 11member

    I give very little weight to anonymous sources especially when they are ex-employees of someone.


  • Reply 3 of 189
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,387member

    You have to admit Daring Fireballs follow link is humorous.

  • Reply 4 of 189

    Siri is still in Beta.    Given that it is just beta software, it works very well.  Nobody should expect that beta software will be 100%

  • Reply 5 of 189
    quevarquevar Posts: 101member

    I found that it is great for sending text messages and dictating notes.  Particularly useful when driving or holding objects with the other hand, both of which make writing difficult.

  • Reply 6 of 189
    pembrokepembroke Posts: 230member

    Wasn't SJ firmly in charge at the point Apple bought Siri?

  • Reply 7 of 189
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member


    Originally Posted by MJBauer View Post

    I give very little weight to anonymous sources especially when they are ex-employees of someone.




  • Reply 8 of 189
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member


    Originally Posted by pembroke View Post

    Wasn't SJ firmly in charge at the point Apple bought Siri?

    Again. Yup.

  • Reply 9 of 189
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,426member

    I think Siri is a nice start for a beta product but has a long way to go. It seems to me that the biggest problem here is the ads overstating what Siri can do. That's just asking for trouble. It kind of reminds me of handwriting recognition on the Newton -- Apple started off way over-promising, and by the time the handwriting recognition was actually pretty good, the public's perception of the Newton's handwriting recognition as lousy had hardened. 

  • Reply 10 of 189

    Turned it off on my 4s. I don't drive so need there, and coupled with it being so damn slow compared to the old voice command app which didn't rely upon the cell network!

  • Reply 11 of 189
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    Siri works about 10x better than the voice-activated calling in the previous phones, but that could be mic related
  • Reply 12 of 189
    povilaspovilas Posts: 473member

    All i can say is that Siri understands and answers more questions than some humans do, so there is that.

  • Reply 13 of 189
    maccherrymaccherry Posts: 924member

    I could careless about SERI. I would like to now why the hell I couldn't use my new iPad via he wall adapter when the batter has drained.

    I took it back to the Apple store for a full refund on Lincoln Road on Miami Beach last month and the manager was more than willing to refund my credit card.

    Apparently  this is a very hush, hush snafu on Apple's part.

  • Reply 14 of 189
    chabigchabig Posts: 641member

    What snafu? They're not supposed to give refunds?

  • Reply 15 of 189
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,212member

    Was said "former Apple employee" working on the MobileMe team?


    Siri's failures are not in the same class of failures that was MobileMe's. Siri doesn't lose or corrupt users' data. (Of lesser note, Siri is also clearly advertised as "Beta", whereas MobileMe was released as a supposedly fully, properly functional service.)

  • Reply 16 of 189
    soundvisionsoundvision Posts: 174member

    True and I'm sure the mic is party related to it.


    If I had to guess it's because they are using Dragon's technology, not their own.

  • Reply 17 of 189
    jayrodojayrodo Posts: 12member

    Just make it so it doesn't have to communicate with apple servers for requests that don't need an internet connection. Why do you need to communicate with the server to call a contact that the old voice service was able to do before without a connection?

  • Reply 18 of 189
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 618member

    Siri doesn't work great here in the UK. I never use it at all. However my non-techie iPhone using friends love it. Go figure.

  • Reply 19 of 189
    wardcwardc Posts: 150member

    SIRI = "Steve's INADEQUATE Response Interpreter"

  • Reply 20 of 189
    majjomajjo Posts: 574member

    there are two aspects to siri. theres the voice translation, and then thers the backend it plugs the translated result into to find your answer. from my experience talking to non techinical people, they have a hard time understanding and separating the two.


    i think the translation aspect of siri is pretty good, or at least better than the competing options out there from google. however, imo the backend could use a lot more work. most of you would probably disagree with me on this, but i think siri would be alot betterif they were more liberal with using google services in the backend. because i find the suggestions based on yelp to be somewhat lacking.

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