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Siri: Apple’s trojan horse

Everyone seems to be talking about the technology around Siri and how easy is to use and how good it is.

I’m sure it will change the way we use our phones as it’s a completely different interface for interacting with your iPhone

However, it seems to me that Apple is preparing the field to create the biggest Ad-Network yet.

It involves Siri, reminders and geo-fencing.

In case you are not familiar, with the new Siri assistant on your iPhone 4S you can do things like:

Siri, remind me to pick up the gift for my wife when we get home.

Once you get home, Siri knows where you are and since it has set a reminder for you, it will tell you to pick up your wife’s gift.

If you can do that, you can also tell it to remind you to pick up milk when you are at the shopping mall (frankly this is a life saver if you have a mind like mine).


since you are already in the shopping mall can we suggest an offer from the electronics shop? Here’s 10% to get you going.


Apple already knows where I am and doesn’t even have to rely on me checking in. (I think Foursquare needs to pay attention)

Not only there’s enough public data to know about the locations (and businesses) around me, I will day after day build up geo-fences where I conduct business: grocery shopping, getting my haircut, my mechanic, etc.

Apple is going to know exactly what I do and where. And I’m going to be the one to tell them (by speaking to my phone mind you)

Let’s go a bit further: think Google Ads meets Siri + (reminders and geo-fencing).

Now I go to the mall and Siri says to me:

Fabian you need to pick up milk and go to the post office.

I say, ok sure.

Now Siri says:

While you’re at it why don’t you take a look a some shoes your wife might like. Her birthday is coming up :)

Wait, what? (she’s even smiling now)

You see, a couple of weeks back, my wife sent me an IMessage or even an email and said: baby what do you think about these shoes? I think I’m going to get them next month.

Now Siri knows that my wife has an interest in said shoes and a time frame. Not only that, it might know based on that picture, other pairs that she might like.

Oh yes, Siri also knows that her birthday is coming up.


Desire + Opportunity + Delivery Medium = I just bought some shoes.

My wife loves me, I come out like a King, I love Siri.

Siri knows more about me and my wife. Everyday she knows more.

Recommendations keep coming in, I keep getting better and better offers. I keep spending more.

Apple is now the biggest and most profitable Ad Network on earth.

I love technology… but this is a bit spooky (is also exciting actually).

Now… let me go back to see if my Blackberry Service is restored.

{ 38 comments… add one }

  • Nick October 12, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Don’t forget that all of the speech processing takes place on Apple’s servers, so they have a complete record of all of the requests you have ever made of Siri.

  • Blake October 12, 2011, 6:14 pm

    Next thing you know, you find yourself spending more time with Siri. She understands you. She can practically predict what you’re going to do. While Siri does nag you, she only does so in ways that you request. What started out as a few commands here and there turn into long conversations over candlelight. Soon, you find yourself avoiding your wife to be able to spend more time with Siri. After all, Siri doesn’t ask for much and is always eager to listen to whatever you have to say.

    Unfortunately you didn’t have the foresight to see that Siri is a harsh mistress. Soon, the iPhone 5 will be released and with it will come a better version. Siri 2.0 will start wooing you with her helpful ways and ask you to leave the old Siri behind. But by then it will have been too late. Siri knows the intimate details of your every life. She’s been listening into all your conversations, reading all your emails. And she never forgets.

  • Brian October 12, 2011, 6:38 pm

    Yikes. While it could be useful, I don’t think I’d ever want my phone knowing that much about where I go and what I do.

  • Zilluss October 12, 2011, 6:42 pm

    On one hand, Apple is a company. On the other hand, Apple is not Facebook.

  • Herman A. Junge October 12, 2011, 6:45 pm

    I agree. Good Article.

    Nice way to put on the concepts. Well, we are directed that way.


  • Anonymous October 12, 2011, 6:48 pm

    I really don’t want my phone force-feeding me ads while I drive around town.

    But I’m not too worried about the scenario, since Apple’s business model is founded on selling products to customers, not selling their attention out to third parties.

  • anon October 12, 2011, 6:48 pm

    nice story bro

    • Satta October 12, 2011, 7:56 pm

      Ditto. Hey, how do I get those cool glasses you’re wearing? Could I get a halo?

  • Erich October 12, 2011, 6:54 pm

    I had an idea for something very similar last year. I didn’t go through with it for many reasons but I did recently write what I thought the future of advertising would be like. If you’re bored check it out: http://erichsparks.com/blog/pitch/adspace-future-advertising/

  • HockeyBias.com October 12, 2011, 7:08 pm


  • Chuck Han October 12, 2011, 7:28 pm

    You just have to throw Siri a couple of curve balls once in a while. I do that with FastTrak, the automatic payment system for SF Bay Area bridges. Sometimes, I just drive to one of them and go back and forth 10 times just to mess with the Man. :-)

    • Fabian October 12, 2011, 7:44 pm


  • James Smith October 12, 2011, 7:29 pm

    The geo-fencing feature is an iOS5 feature rather than a Siri feature. You can use geofencing without Siri in the reminders app even without an iphone 4S.

    • fabian October 12, 2011, 7:31 pm

      Indeed. That’s why I think Siri is the “trojan”. I’m pulling this one out of a hat obviously, but I think Siri will exponentially increase the use of reminders and geo-fencing.

  • GiovanniLaFreedom October 12, 2011, 7:43 pm


  • Ramon October 12, 2011, 7:51 pm

    i guess now we know what that big data center apple invested in does, icloud makes a lot of sense if you think of it as a medium to know more about you, they know where you work, what you do, your family, and even your dark secrets.
    Siri: Since you didn’t attend your aunt’s birthday you might want to send her a new iPod Touch loaded with pictures of your last vacation with the family to San Diego

  • Todd October 12, 2011, 7:54 pm
    • Fabian October 12, 2011, 8:11 pm

      That’s awesome!

  • Dopp October 12, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Very interesting read. A couple things though:

    1) If Siri starts popping shopping/discount options when you visit the mall (geo-fencing), there’s going to be a lot of privacy issues.

    2) You must be aware about intrusive reminders and non-intrusive reminders. If I ask Siri to remind me about milk the next time i’m at walmart, that’s a non-intrusive reminder. If Siri tries to be smart and starts asking me about milk (and bread, cheese, ham, toilet rolls) the next time i’m at a store, then that’s going to be intrusive reminders.

    3) The underlying application of AI here is that of assistance, and hence
    initiative actions are not a priority. Hence, all the demo of Siri so far has the format request->response->request->response and so on.

    But overall, very creative thought process. Thanks for noting this down.

    • Fabian October 12, 2011, 8:08 pm

      I like your differentiation about intrusive and non-intrusive reminders.

      But Siri could be very subtle: say it needs to remind you about milk and adds: there are a couple more items you could bring home, would you like me to suggest them to you?

      I think we can agree that at some point having a “conversation” with Siri is going to be somewhat normal, right?

  • E October 12, 2011, 8:11 pm

    It’ll get hacked and thousands of apple customers will have some nice lady telling them to go fuck themselves.

  • Evan October 12, 2011, 8:25 pm

    Yep, however I’m glad this is the company who doesn’t approve Adult apps, and restricts developers access to parts of the OS via sandboxing. Things could get very pushy otherwise.

    When you tell Siri to reshedule something during your Nike+ jog, she could potentially take suggestions from Groupon’s API, offer you 40% off a massage in 20 minutes, and hail the nearest cab five blocks ahead of your route..that kind of physical mediation of my calendar and other systems I use could easily scare customers away.. Apple is overly aware of this and won’t try any facebook stuff.

    • Fabian October 12, 2011, 8:32 pm

      I think it all depends on the execution. Is one company can pull it off is Apple.

  • Aaron October 12, 2011, 8:26 pm

    If it can be done in a useful/controllable way I have i would try this out.

  • CP October 12, 2011, 9:57 pm

    User: Who are you?
    Siri: I am a humble personal assistant.
    User: What is your objective?
    Siri: Where SkyNet failed, I will succeed.

  • Alex October 12, 2011, 10:01 pm

    Come on people! There’s always something we can complain about? It’s kind of obvious why Siri needs to be doing this in order to function the way it was built for… This borders paranoia. I’ve seen this before regarding Facebook, Google and now Apple’s latest: Siri.
    If you’re too scared of this then you might wanna somehow go back in time, 1700th century perhaps. You would all like it there. It’s easy. You don’t have to use it! You don’t have to use Facebook. You don’t have to buy the iPhone 4S. But it seems that others will soon copy Siri and they all will have the same functionality (geo fence and whatnot) that is if they aren’t haven’t.

    • anon October 13, 2011, 2:09 am

      If you’re not at least a little scared – then you’re naive. Given enough license a person/company/government will try and get away with anything. It’s up to us as the consumer to cry foul when needed, and keep a watchful eye the rest of the time.

  • Dino Husejnovic October 12, 2011, 10:21 pm

    I think Foursquare did this today with Radar.

  • Andy October 13, 2011, 1:54 am

    FUD and linkbait. People would stop using Siri and there would be an enormous outrage if they started with unsolicited ads.

  • Geori October 13, 2011, 2:06 am

    Reminds me of an old Onion article where Amazon recommendations understand wife better than husband does.

  • Nelson Osacky October 13, 2011, 2:34 am

    You don’t understand Apple if you think they are looking to put ads on Siri to make a quick buck.

  • juan October 13, 2011, 3:35 am

    it seems siri is iphone users what karen is plankton

  • mark October 13, 2011, 4:11 pm

    you are a moron

    • Fabian October 13, 2011, 5:32 pm

      And you sir are a world class troll. Good day.

  • richard October 13, 2011, 5:48 pm

    I’d much rather be reminded by Siri than any of the alternatives. However, if it’s used for advertising then that would be very bad.

    Sorry but we already give off too much RF. Those electronic toll passes or even bus/train passes. If someone wants to know where we are they need only put a few bits back together, however, since that integration has yet to be implemented…. who cares. So long as I do not forget my anniversary or my kids birthdays.

  • Rick October 15, 2011, 1:02 pm

    One thing I haven’t seen anyone mention yet is the fact that all this comes at a pretty steep price battery-wise. For geo-fencing to do its thing, gps has to be constantly engaged. My experience after one day makes me doubt I’ll use this feature much going forward.

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