Siri: Google’s Worst Nightmare

Google rules desktop search, and has for many years now. I use the Chrome browser, and its integrated Google search is fantastic.

But once I move to my iPhone, Google basically doesn’t exist anymore. Searching on my phone has been such a pain that I tended to avoid it unless I had to. Like that time I stood in the automotive aisle of Fred Meyer searching for the right size windshield wipers for my car. But that all changed when Siri came to the 4S.

Siri has improved to the point where my search habits have changed, and that’s not a good thing for Google. I tell my phone what I’m looking for and it finds it. No typos. No ads. Works nearly every time. Not 100% but dang close.

This is bad news for Google, especially when you take into consideration the low engagement of Android compared to iOS. Example: Mobile devices made up 24% of Black Friday online traffic. But of that segment, iOS made up 77% of mobile traffic. In short, iOS users make better customers. Or maybe iOS devices are designed to attract better customers. And these customers using iOS are going to search and buy more products.

Google bought Android and continues to develop the platform because they can’t afford to miss out on mobile search spoils, and this keeps them in the game. So they have helped created a hugely successful mobile business for Samsung, but bear all development costs and see little return for their efforts.

In hindsight, turning against Apple instead of partnering with them could turn out to be one of the biggest boneheaded business decisions we’ve seen in while. Since Android’s inception, Google has earned 4x the revenues on iOS than it has Android.

If I were a Google shareholder I’d be scratching my head. Microsoft will probably make more off Android licensing deals than Google will this year. My friends running Android laugh when I tell them Google should sell off Android to Samsung and come crawling back to Apple.

But the train has left the station and Apple is well on its way to taking a major slice of mobile search and no longer needs Google. If Brian Hall is correct, expect to see Siri in a lot more places too. The game is far from over, but Siri is looking like Apple’s scalpel of choice in carving out portions of search market Google is trying desperately to protect.

Siri could turn out to be Google’s worst nightmare.