Siri’s potential to devalue iOS

Bob O’Donnell, in this Recode article:

Another fascinating aspect of these digital assistants is that they have the potential to completely devalue the underlying platforms on which they run. If I can use, say, Alexa across an iPhone, a Windows PC, my smart home components and a future connected car, where does the unique value of iOS or Windows 10 go? Out the door.

An interesting premise. Clearly, more and more people are using digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Now. I believe digital assistants will grow in intelligence, usefulness, and mindshare. But I struggle with the argument that they will devalue their respective platforms.

The basic idea there is that Siri will become a platform and, eventually, you won’t care about operating system anymore. I do think that digital assistants have the potential to minimize the need for a user interface. But there’s only so much you can draw from a personal conversation. There are times when you need to see and peruse more data than can be transferred via voice.

I’d say that digital assistants are great for a synopsis of existing data, such as the list of events on today’s calendar or news headlines. But a deep dive is always going to be better on a screen (at least until we figure out a way to directly ingest data into the brain).

Same with data creation. Adding an event to a calendar is perfect for Siri, but writing code, or a long email that requires editing, or a deck of slides will always require a screen.

Digital assistants will always be a facet of the underlying operating system. Siri will always be a feature of iOS, a partner in the experience. As I’ve said many times, it’s all about the ecosystem.