Yesterday, Apple unveiled its new iPhone: the iPhone 4S. While it had a few upgrades from the previous version that seemed to disappoint analysts and investors, the hot new feature of this iPhone is the voice command technology, called Siri.
Siri is the name of the voice command software firm that Apple bought last year, precisely for the purpose of adding innovative capabilities to the iPhone. Having watched the video about Siri, I was impressed that it can be used to send texts and emails, put appointments on your calendar, help you find destinations, and more.
What intrigues me in particular is using voice and audio to “read” and send texts. Texting has undeniably been the most rapidly-growing communication method in the past six years. Today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings use texting as their primary form of communication. It’s interesting to see that email is almost irrelevant to them (and it’s kind of annoying when they almost walk into you at the mall or park because they have their eyes fixed on their phones!).
The big question on my mind is: will Siri – and copycat technologies – fundamentally change the way that people communicate the way that texting did?
It’s pretty crazy to ponder that. And it’s fascinating to think that an acquisition is what enabled Apple to take such a potentially game-changing leap forward.
Why it’s fascinating is that Apple, desiring voice command technology, could have just rested on the good ol’ make or buy decision: do we develop the capabilities ourselves or do we procure the capabilities from a supplier?
Developing the capabilities themselves would have taken a relatively long time when there was already another company out there with those capabilities. But rather than just opt for the “buy” decision, Apple got strategic and acquired the would-be supplier.
Essentially, that was a step to prevent competitors from using the same technology. That gives Apple the proverbial competitive advantage.
Think about your own supply base. Is there a supplier that is so good and so innovative that your company would benefit if no other company in the world was able to do business with that supplier?