Yesterday I read an article by Tom Simonite titled Siri, Google Now, and the End of Apps, and it really struck a chord with me. Mostly because I disagree with his analysis, but also because reading through the article made me face palm once or twice.
The entire basis of Mr. Simonite’s article comes from a piece of an Apple job posting for a UI engineer which says (when talking about Siri): “Consider it an entire miniature OS [operating system] within the OS.” He goes on to talk about the implication of that line being that Siri and Google Now should be thought of as more general purpose tools that can achieve just about anything and how technology such as Siri and Google Now could transform the way people get stuff with a smartphone and therefore eliminating the need for people to interact with or have apps.
If you ask me, that couldn’t be farther from what will actually happen. In fact, when Siri becomes more advanced (an OS within an OS), it will be apps that take its functionality to the next level. To think that Siri will be enough to replace apps is just silly. Plus, operating systems are designed to support apps to increase their feature sets and functionality — they’re not supposed to be silos.
And the fact that he goes onto say, “you can find a restaurant and check table availability with Siri without having installed OpenTable, Yelp or any of their competitors,” is just deceiving people about how Siri works currently. Yes, Siri will check to see if a restaurant has availability and yes you can see a Yelp rating, however, if you wish to make a reservation using OpenTable you do need to have OpenTable app installed and if you want to read all of the reviews in addition to just seeing the Yelp rating, you need to have the app installed.
Yelp’s reviews are part of what makes Yelp the company that it is. It isn’t just going to give those up for nothing. The same with OpenTable and its arrangements with restaurants to handle their reservations. Those companies aren’t going to let Apple simply tap into their data (at least for free) with Siri and not give them any kickbacks. No company in the world would allow that, and this is one reason why apps aren’t going anywhere and why it’s crazy that Mr. Simonite thinks its the end of the apps era.
He goes on to say that, “Apple and Google turned to app developers in the first place, and promoted what they came up with, because smartphones needed flashy features to appear worth buying (revenue from app sales has never been very significant).”
It’s never been significant? Apple has paid out over $6.5 billion to third party developers, which means Apple itself has pocketed almost $2 billion by just letting developers host their apps in the App Store. That’s like free money. And I don’t know where you live but $2 billion is still a lot of money where I’m from, and I live in New York.
Mr. Simonite goes onto to write, “But people get a smoother experience if they can avoid having to think about apps, and Apple and Google get to be more intimate with their users.”
Let’s not forget that third party apps are becoming super popular, many people are using them and in many cases, people prefer third party apps to Apple’s own apps.
So no, Siri and Google Now aren’t going to kill apps. If anything, apps will be just as important as ever and will be providing additional value to people using Siri and Google Now.