APPLE HAS A reputation for entering markets late—think portable music players or smartphones—and then blowing away competitors with a superior product. When it comes to Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, that storyline appears to be playing out in reverse.
Apple revealed Siri with the iPhone 4S in October 2011, one day before cofounder Steve Jobs died. Talking to a device to set alarms or answer messages was seen as revolutionary. It took other tech giants years to catch up: Amazon’s Alexa assistant appeared in 2014 as part of the Echo home speaker, and the unimaginatively named Google Assistant appeared only last summer. Today, those relative newcomers offer more features than their predecessor, and get a more central role in their makers’ product plans.
“Google and Amazon are winning the race for virtual personal assistants,” says Brian Blau of Gartner.