Mar 12

Apple’s Siri balancing act

A couple of weeks ago, some guy in Brooklyn started a class-action suit against Apple. Basically, the suit says that Siri doesn’t live up to the claims made in Apple’s ads.

Most of these cases are easy to dismiss. Suing Apple is great sport, and I imagine Apple has teams of lawyers whose full-time job is fending off nuisance lawsuits.

However, in this case, it’s hard not to wonder if some judge or jury might actually come down on the plaintiffs’ side.

Putting aside the fact that a number of people have been grumbling about Siri’s performance of late, Apple would seem to be walking a tightrope when they put together a legal argument.

On one hand, they can say “Hey, we said from the start that Siri is a beta product. Obviously it’s not perfect yet.” On the other hand, they launched iPhone 4S with a major national ad campaign featuring Siri, and have been running the ads ever since.

There’s no difference between the way Apple has presented the beta Siri to the public and the way it has introduced any new feature in previous products. Clearly it considers Siri to be the main feature of iPhone 4S. The ads show Siri in its best possible light and never mention that it’s a beta.

Those who follow Apple news are certainly aware of Siri’s beta status. The other 90% of the world isn’t. Honestly, if I were sitting on a jury, I’d have to do some serious thinking on that.

Forgetting the legal issues, it’s an interesting and unique case for Apple. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but I don’t recall any product or feature in Apple’s history that was released as a beta, and was simultaneously advertised so heavily.

Can a company present a feature as a product’s main attraction, and then claim “it’s just a beta” when it gets sued?

Keep in mind that Apple hasn’t officially taken that position yet. Who knows what their defense will ultimately be. The case is young, and the lawyers may still be busy devising a legal strategy.

“Siri, find me a good argument.”

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  • Come on, Microsoft has been in beta mode for decades and no one is suing them for that!

  • Riz

    You may be making a joke ‘ObamaPacman’ but MS never ‘sold’ nor advertised a beta product.

    I haven’t done so yet, but what happens if I go to a Genius and ask support for Siri. Will they refuse telling me it is beta as they do with Boot Camp or will they answer?

    Ken’s observation is correct.