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Class-action suit accuses Apple of "misleading" Siri advertising

Television campaign is "fiction" designed to mislead consumers about Siri's capabilities

A new class-action lawsuit has accused Apple of "misleading and deceptive" messaging around the iPhone 4S's Siri search function, The Washington Post reports.

The suit was filed by Mr. Frank M. Fazio and "all other similarly situated consumers" on the grounds that Apple's "extensive and comprehensive" advertising campaign misrepresented Siri's capabilities, despite it being positioned as the product's major selling-point.

"[Apple's] advertisements regarding the Siri feature are fundamentally and designedly false and misleading," the complaint reads. "The iPhone 4S's Siri feature does not perform as advertised, rendering the iPhone 4S merely a more expensive iPhone 4."

The complaint notes several activities depicted in television adverts as being misleading, including finding restaurants, petrol stations and guitar chords. The way these events are represented in advertising is described as, "fiction."

The complaint also includes an excerpt from a press release in which Apple suggests that Siri could promptly answer questions like, "Will I need an umbrella this weekend?" and "What's the traffic like round here?" Other problems mentioned include long wait times for responses and Siri's high demands on data.

Apple's advertising does feature the disclaimer, "sequences shortened," and there is a longer disclaimer on its website that states, "Siri is available in Beta only on iPhone 4S and requires internet access. Siri may not be available in all languages or in all areas, and features may vary by area."

However, the complaint takes the position that the information offered is not sufficient for consumers to make an educated decision.

The launch of the iPhone 4S spurred Apple on to record sales in the quarter ended December 31, 2011. During that period, the company sold around 37 million iPhones, of which around 33 million were from the 4S range.

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Latest comments (11)

Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College4 years ago
I do feel a bit cheated by Siri to be honest (the rest of the phone is great). No doubt it'll get better but there will only be one sentence in my memory when I look back at the 4S in years to come:

'I can only look for businesses in the United States and when you're using US english'

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Antony Cain on 14th March 2012 11:34am

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gi biz ;,pgc.eu 4 years ago
This sounds as a déjŕ vu. I'm always amazed at how people are happy to pay any amount of money for any product provided the shell looks good and their friends are doing the same.
And at how people believe whatever you tell them (remember the crazy technology shown in Milo demo?)
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Neil Harris President, Hero4 years ago
Siri works for me. Speed depends on the data connection. I don't use it much but it does answer the questions from the Apple commercials.
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Show all comments (11)
Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 4 years ago
Siri seems fine when burying bodies and trying to get away with crimes but, only if you live in the good old US of A. Now granted this is most likely where that kind of information is best needed but, it seems to have trouble telling me anything from that commercial when in london, france, germany etc. etc.

Clearly Apple should have a disclaimer like "Only really works right in the US" or some such thing.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
Doesn't the UK have some pretty strict false advertising laws?
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
We need a cull of lawyers. 90% of what they do has no social value. :-)
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Gregore Candalez Journalist and Account Manager, FD Com.4 years ago
Siri is a typical case of a feature people DO NOT need, but have grown addicted to. Now, they act like Siri is a must-have and, as such, is not allowed bugs and problems.

These people with mainstream technology, I don't get them.
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 4 years ago
HEY! I don't technically need a windscreen or a radio in my car but, if they are included, then they better not be made of cling film and tear the moment I go to wipe the flies off!

Seriously though. If you sell a feature with a product it should at least do what the heck it says on the tin and Apple clearly have been overselling the tins contents!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Peter Dwyer on 14th March 2012 4:07pm

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Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports4 years ago
Simple solution, use Android and download Evi, it's free.
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Jack Lee4 years ago
I'll echo many of the sentiments voiced here. Siri has yet to prove more useful than a dictation machine combined with a voice-controlled timer/appointment scheduler. While these things are super useful and could have been decent selling points on their own, Apple really played up the who "concierge/assistant" angle in the marketing, and that just doesn't seem to have worked out. It doesn't work well enough with normal speech (it's not as bad as some old syntax-specific machines, but it's still not great at parsing meaning out of normal speech), and its answers to questions are routinely mediocre or irrelevant. If they had just concentrated on the handful of things it does well (dictation, appointments, reminders, etc), that would have been fine. As it is, most people I know feel a bit burned by Siri.

As a side note, I think the hardware refresh was still pretty good, even discounting the addition of Siri. Enough to upgrade from a 4, maybe not, but easily worth an upgrade from an earlier model.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jack Lee on 14th March 2012 7:06pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
I think the guy's suing because that "Rock God" commercial has made too many wannabe Guitar Heroes come out into the daylight with their egos all puffed up because their phone won't tell them they can't play/write/sing for shit.
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