Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Nokia has accused Apple of deliberately tampering with Siri to change results, after the virtual personal assistant was found to have stopped endorsing the Nokia Lumia 900 phone.
As we reported last week, when asked ‘What is the best smartphone ever’, Siri recommends the new Nokia phone, built on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system and not the iPhone 4S or other Apple devices.
Update: Nokia has played down the comments, as per the details below.
Reports have now suggested that the results have since changed, with the Lumia 900 no longer the answer, and Nokia believes that Apple is responsible, having deliberately edited Siri’s answer.
In statement published by the Sydney Morning Herald today, Nokia spokesperson Tracey Postill said:
Apple position Siri as the intelligent system that’s there to help, but clearly if they don’t like the answer, they override the software.
The real reason, as Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land astutely points out, has nothing to do with Apple or Siri and everything to do with the Wolfram Alpha, the search engine that gives the program its intelligence.
Sullivan explains that Siri’s response is based on reviews from Best Buy and other unknown factors which produces an array of possible answers. Although he tried changing parameters to get the Lumia endorsement, he wasn’t able to, here’s his explanation of the phenomenon:
Of course, Wolfram will use its own mechanism for sorting. The bottom line is that Wolfram has ratings from Best Buy, and it’s not trying to weight those in any particular fashion such as number of reviews or number of purchases.
His article is well worth reading in full (here). He wasn’t able to get the Lumia endorsement despite questioning Siri using a number of different approaches, some of which are below:
Nokia hasn’t hesitated to point the finger at Apple, despite the fact that Siri draws its information from a third party and produces multiple responses.
We got in touch with Postill, who confirmed her comments to the SMH. We reached out for further comment, in light of the explanation of how Siri gets its data, and will update this post with any response that we’re given.
We also contacted Apple and will, likewise, add any statement that is provided in response.
Update: The BBC reports that Nokia has played down the significance of the comments:
Nokia said Ms Postill’s comments were “lighthearted” and “taken out of context”.
“We were certainly flattered and honoured,” Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson added.
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