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IVR Siri Gets By with a Little Help from Her Friends
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IVR Siri Gets By with a Little Help from Her Friends

April 24, 2012

  By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

Every celebrity’s career follows a similar arc. One hit song or one hit movie makes you famous. Then, your popularity wanes as you are passed over for the next big talent. Either you slide into oblivion, or you plan your comeback.

Apple’s (News - Alert) famous IVR star Siri has planned her comeback, and she’s enlisted some help in the process. Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel are hyping Siri in Apple’s latest television commercials. Jackson stars as a man who is preparing to cook dinner for a date. He asks Siri to help him find mushrooms for his risotto and to remind him to chill his gazpacho. Deschanel asks Siri about the weather and also asks the assistant to remind her to clean.

So maybe you can look out the window to see if it’s raining, and maybe one look at your home is all that you need to tell you that it’s time to clean. You’re probably like many iPhone (News - Alert) 4S users who first loved Siri but have lately stopped using the IVR program. Some have grown impatient with the glitches in the technology. Others have balked at the drag on their data plan.

"All you need is a few fails and you drop it,” Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies, told eWeek when asked why users are growing disenchanted with IVR programs like Siri. “Speech recognition, and the even more difficult task of meaning derivation, is not easy. And people are highly intolerant of imperfection in this domain. A speech recognizer that fails even 1 percent of the time is seen as flawed."

Pund-IT principal Charles King commented on the data demands. “After the initial rush of people using [IVR] after the iPhone 4S was introduced, there seems to have been a significant falloff in usage. But I believe that may be due to the impact of Siri on users' data plans, due to voice recognition processing being carried out at the data center, then pinged back to the phone.”

Still, Apple hopes that a boost from celebrity endorsements will help Siri to stage a comeback. King suggests combating the data problem by offering IVR programs like Siri as part of a monthly service plan for a fixed fee.

Siri isn’t ready to disappear from the scene just yet. However, Apple will need to rethink the IVR program if they want to ensure that it doesn’t become a has-been.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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