One year ago today, Apple introduced Siri to the world. For some, Siri represented the future of how we might interact with our devices.

But for a great many, reality has not exactly lived up to the hype (especially as advertised by Samuel L. Jackson and Zoey Deschanel).  According to a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal in May, only a small percentage of consumers are using Siri for anything beyond placing phone calls and sending text messages.­

Recently, as part of our research in the mobile space, Blink Interactive conducted a longitudinal study on the “emotional response” that Siri has inspired in individuals who were about to purchase an iPhone 4S. The objective of this study was to understand not only how we as consumers internalize new technologies, but also how we integrate new innovations into our lives once the novelty wears off.

The participants interviewed represent a range of demographics (though purposely skewed to a slightly younger audience in their 20’s to 30’s), with each participant having indicated an interest in using their iPhone for more than just ‘texting and calling’.

Upon analyzing the usage data and conducting in-depth interviews, we identified four key insights about the emotional cycle that new Siri users typically encounter. Think of it in a similar vein as the technological equivalent to the Five Stages of Grief, though significantly less ominous:

1. Initial Excitement: Like many perceived new innovations – especially those hyped by Apple – excitement about the potential represented by Siri reached its highest point before users had even purchased the iPhone 4S.  This initial excitement was evident in their behavior – many of whom reported that Siri was one of the top reasons they purchased the iPhone 4S instead of a competitor device.

2. Optimistic Curiosity: After participants purchased their new iPhone, they put their initial excitement to use by trying Siri right away. They were optimistic that they would actually be able to converse with Siri, that Siri would understand a majority of commands, and be able to accurately dictate spoken word into text;

The inability to open 3rd party applications was a key frustration point for users.

3. Frustrated Exploration: As participants tried – and tired – of using Siri, their optimistic curiosity quickly gave way to frustration. Participants began to question whether their perceived 50% failure rate was truly due to their own deficiencies or if Siri was simply less sophisticated and less capable than they had assumed.

4. Acceptance & Habit Forming: Despite the frustration that participants regularly experienced with trying to use Siri, most indicated that they planned to continue using it. Aside for wanting to “get their money’s worth” there was a general consensus that it could truly become helpful and fun to use once they figured out the ideal scenarios and tasks for using it.

So what does this all mean for the impending launch of the new version of Siri and what lessons should mobile providers take to heart?

First and foremost, manufacturers should consider tempering the hype with more genuine and applied scenarios to avoid inflated and unrealistic expectations (though Siri is technically still in “beta,” few consumers realize or even understand the distinction).

Second, Apple has built its brand on creating streamlined and simple user experiences. But usability should not be confused with functionality.

Finally, designing for mobile demands an entirely different approach and as many of these participants would attest, any mobile software must be designed with the user’s ultimate goal and context in mind.

Has Siri changed the way you interact with your iPhone? What new capabilities will make you more likely to use the next generation of Siri? Let us know in the comments.

Kelly Franznick is the Founder & CEO of Blink Interactive, a Seattle-based user research and design firm, and a past GeekWire Geek of the Week. You can download the full PDF version of this research for free at http://www.blinkux.com/_downloads/Blink_Siri_White_Paper.pdf

Comments

  • inm

    I don’t have objective data on this, but Siri felt more useful and it felt like it was correctly answering a larger percentage of queries when it first launched than it does today.

    My guess is that they are experiencing significant scaling issues on the backend and dumbing down a significant number of queries because of this.

    This still has a lot of potential, but I think it would be nicer to see Siri advancing much more rapidly.

    If this is true and they are having scaling issues now then what happens when iPads get Siri and Desktop Macs and Apple TVs get it and what happens when 3rd party Apps get Siri access as well?

  • http://openid.aol.com/suboptimalrobot Subopti

    Absent an API, Siri will never get smarter. I’d use Siri, or an analogous service on other OSes, if all my apps could integrate with it.

    “Siri, what’s this song I’m listening to?” (delegate to Shazam)

    “Siri, watch ‘Arrested Development’ on Netflix.”

    “Siri, what’s the score on the Mariners game?” (current feature) “I’d like to listen to it live.” (delegate to MLB At Bat)

  • SirisDad

    Siri was revealed to the world on Oct 4 2011 (the day before SJ died), as part of the iPhone 4S launch, not as part of iOS 5. So, she’s not quite 1 yet…

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