Siri, do you know of a good defense lawyer in Manhattan?
The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog reports that Apple is being sued by a man in New York over its Siri commercials, claiming that the ads are examples of "intentional misrepresentation" and "negligent misrepresentation" of the Voice Assistant's capabilities.
The class action lawsuit complains that "[t]hrough an extensive and comprehensive nationwide marketing campaign, [Apple] has conveyed the misleading and deceptive message that the iPhone 4S's Siri feature, a so-called voice-activated assistant, performs useful functions and otherwise works as advertised."
In many of Apple's television advertisements, individuals are shown using Siri to make appointments, find restaurants, and even learn the guitar chords to classic rock songs or how to tie a tie. In the commercials, all of these tasks are done with ease with the assistant of the iPhone 4S's Siri feature, a represented functionality contrary to the actual operating results and performance of Siri.
The effectiveness of Siri has indeed been a hot topic of debate ever since the phone came out. Apple released Siri in Beta, a fact it makes clear on its website; this designation did not appease everyone, however. A well-distributed rant by Gizmodo's Mat Honan, titled "Siri Is Apple's Broken Promise," reamed the company for releasing and promoting a feature that, in his mind, was "a half-baked voice-control system."
Honan also felt that the ads were deceiving, noting that when he tried out a command to start playing music that was shown off in an early iPhone 4S commercial -- "Play some Coltrane!" -- Siri apologized that she couldn't find any "coal train."
"[I]n its Siri ads," Honan concludes, "[Apple] promises far more than what it actually delivers."
Whether this is grounds for litigation is questionable. Apple sold over 37 million new iPhones in the first three months following the release of the iPhone 4S in October; for what it's worth, a survey by Loopt found that a 45 percent majority of those buying an iPhone 4S in the first days after its release were doing so because of Siri.
Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment. In the meantime, we can report that Siri was, indeed, able to find us a list of defense lawyers in Manhattan, ranked by average rating on Yelp, on its first try; we'll also let you know if Siri is named as a witness for the prosecution, and if so, whether or not she pleads the fifth.