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Apple’s voice-activated assistant Siri is a direct threat to Google’s search engine. That’s according to the internet giant’s chairman Eric Schmidt.
“Apple has launched an entirely new approach to search technology with Siri, its voice-activated search and task-completion service built into the iPhone 4S,” Schmidt acknowledged in a written response to the Senate antitrust subcommittee.
He also pointed out a number of other challengers to Google’s internet dominance, including Facebook, Twitter and traditional search competitors like Yahoo! and Microsoft Bing.
“Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter also allow users to leverage their social networks to find answers to their questions. Google is therefore competing with all methods available to access information on the Internet, not just other general search engines,” Schmidt wrote.
“The source of Facebook’s competition with Google is not only through using Bing to search the internet but, also by offering users a fundamentally different way to discover and connect with information on the internet.”
An analyst for financial and investment magazine Forbes recently said that Siri’s launch could spell “a future crippling of Google’s business”.
Respected technology site TechCrunch, meanwhile, described Siri as Apple’s “entry point” into the search engine business.
“Siri is not trying to solve the general Web search problem,” he said, “it’s trying to do something quite different. Siri is focused on completing tasks for you, not finding Web pages”.
“Siri is shifting the interaction paradigm for the Web from search to assistance,” he added.
Schmidt’s response comes as Google’s share of the US search market climbed back up to above 65%.
The internet-giant is also currently under investigation by anti-trust bodies in the US and Europe.
Schmidt insists that Google is “not dominant” in internet search, as has been the contention of lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Google has many strong competitors,” Schmidt wrote. “So inferring that Google is in any way ‘dominant’ in search would be incorrect.”
He added that the company “has none of the characteristics that I associate with market power.”
Schmidt had previously told lawmakers that he was worried Google customers would switch to other services.
Siri was launched to general fanfare alongside the latest iteration of Apple’s iPhone, the 4S.
—Additional reporting: AFP