There’s a lot at stake in the blockbuster Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit that kicked off in U.S. District Court in San Jose this week. If jurors decide that Samsung knowingly copied designs of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Apple could recover up to $2.5 billion in damages and block Samsung from selling its smartphones and tablets in the U.S.
Not only that — the ruling from this patent case could have repercussions extending far beyond Samsung to include any smart phone or tablet that runs on Google’s Android operating system. That means the whole future of the Apple-Google rivalry could also be decided by the end of the summer.
So what better “person” to ask about the outcome of the trial than Siri, Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant, a know-it-all with an answer for just about anything?
While Siri may not admit it if you ask her, the fact that fake Siri conversations and amusing memes like "[Expletive] That Siri Says" have proliferated across the Web hints at an important fact about Apple products: People really enjoy interacting with them and discovering all of their hidden quirks.
And let’s be fair, Siri wasn’t the key selling point of the new iPhone 4S. Apple more or less lucked out that Siri caught on the way that it did. When you see celebrities such as Martin Scorsese, Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel embracing Siri in new commercials for Apple, remember: The play very likely wasn’t drawn up that way. If not for Siri, the race between Apple and Android might be even narrower than it is now. The fact that Apple was purportedly considering a partnership with Twitter tells you a lot about Apple’s thinking these days.
It’s in the design of the user experience that Apple came up with the idea to imbue Siri with the type of sassiness to reply to questions that Apple knew she couldn’t possibly answer. If you ask Siri directly, she won’t divulge much about the patent lawsuit, but she will tell you everything you need to know about Apple’s innovative thinking.
How do I know? I asked her. Here’s a transcript of our exchange:
Me: Did you read the pre-trial coverage from the Washington Post?
Siri: Sorry, Dominic. I can only read incoming text messages.
Me: What is the best phone?
Siri: The one you are holding.
Me: What is your opinion of Samsung?
Siri: Dominic, you are not supposed to ask your assistant such things.
Me: What’s your favorite iPhone design?
Siri: I don’t really like talking about myself, Dominic.
Me: What is your favorite iPhone feature?
Siri: Your interest flatters me, but... is there something I can do for you?
Me: Is it true that Samsung phones are “not as cool” as Apple’s?
Siri: I can’t answer that. But I could search the Web for you...
Me: Have lawyers been asking you a lot of questions, Siri?
Siri: I found a number of lawyers... 22 of them are fairly close to you.
Me: Where is Tim Cook?
Siri: I haven’t a clue.
Me: What’s Apple’s current stock price?
Siri: AAPL - Apple, Inc. is up so far... $595.79
Me: What’s $2.5 billion in damages divided by Apple’s stock price?
Siri: 4.213 million.
Dominic Basulto is a digital thinker at Bond Strategy and Influence (formerly called Electric Artists) in New York. Prior to Bond Strategy and Influence, he was the editor of Fortune’s Business Innovation Insider and a founding member of Corante.com, one of the Web's first blog media companies. He also shares his thoughts on innovation on the Big Think Endless Innovation blog and is working on a new book on innovation called "Endless Innovation, Most Beautiful and Most Wonderful."
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